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C4iSR: Air

New Delhi launches satellite for use by Indian Air Force

20 December 2018
On 19 December India launched the GSLV-F11 vehicle carrying the GSAT-7A communication satellite for use by the IAF. Source: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a communication satellite on 19 December designed to “significantly enhance” the network-centric and communication capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF), officials have told Jane’s .

The GSAT-7A communication satellite, which was carried into space by the locally developed three-stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F11 (GSLV-F11), was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

The satellite, which is equipped with Ku-band transponders, is expected to interlink IAF fighters, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platforms, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground radar stations, and major airbases.

“We have several platforms that have the capability of communicating through satellites,” said Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa during a visit to the Air Force Station at Jodhpur that same day, adding that GSAT-7A will now enable this type of communication.

Fitted with a Gregorian antenna and other technologies for improved communication, the satellite, which has a lifespan of eight years, will take around four weeks to become fully operational as validation tests of its onboard payload need to be carried out first.

“In the next few days scientists at ISRO’s Master Control Facility will perform various orbit-raising manoeuvres using GSAT-7A’s onboard propulsion system to place the satellite in its final geostationary orbit,” said the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau in a statement.

Official sources told Jane’s that, for now, the Indian Army (IA) will also use about 30% of GSAT-7A’s capacity for communication and networking until its own GSAT-series satellite is launched at a later date.

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