- Military communication satellite GSAT-7A, due to be launched on December 19 evening from Sriharikota, is expected to add a new space-based dimension to the way Indian Air Force interlinks, operates and communicates with its aircraft.
- Although all Indian communication satellites offer capacity to the armed forces, GSAT-7A will be the first one built primarily for the IAF to qualitatively unify its assets and improve combined, common intelligence during operations. With integrated action being a buzzword it will also support aerial activities of the Army and the Navy where required.
- About 70% of it would be for the Air Force and the rest for the needs of the Army.
- The ground force’s Army Aviation Corps operates many helicopters, uses UAVs and will acquire fixed wing aircraft in future — all for surveillance and rescue missions.
- Multiple sources said the satellite using Ku band will enable superior real time aircraft-to-aircraft communication; and between planes that are in flight and their commanders on the ground.
- It would enhance by many times the coverage now provided by ground communication systems such as radars and stations of the Army.
- Out-of-sight and remote areas where ground infrastructure and signals are difficult would get into the critical information loop.
- It will be a very important step towards what we call network-centric operations or warfare.
- It will enable communication and data linking at forward places and air defence centres. Pilots can communicate much better with headquarters while they fly. Headquarters can receive data in real time.
- Since August 2013, the Navy has a satellite largely for its use, the GSAT-7, for similarly linking its ships to command on land.
- The GSAT-7A/ GSLV-F11 mission will also wrap up the calendar year for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- The GSLV-F11 space vehicle will release it to an eventual geostationary orbit about 36,000 km from Earth.
- However, it will become fully functional after a month of testing payloads.
- In 2018, ISRO launched GSAT-11 on December 5 on a European vehicle from Kourou, GSAT-29 on November 14 on its GSLV-MkIII vehicle from Sriharikota, and the ill-fated GSAT-6A on March 29 from Sriharikota.