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India clears air force procurement of GSAT-7C satellite

India has approved the procurement of the GSAT-7C communications satellite for the Indian Air Force. The service's existing GSAT-7A satellite (pictured) was launched in December 2018. (ISRO)

India's Defence Acquisition Council, which is chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved on 23 November the procurement of a communications satellite system for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a press release that the acquisition of the GSAT-7C satellite and its associated ground hubs is budgeted at INR22.36 billion (USD300 million).

The approval was framed through the provision of an ‘acceptance of necessity'; however, no schedule for the contract signing was disclosed.

The MoD said the procurement of the satellite system will facilitate real-time connectivity of the IAF's software-defined radios.

The procurement will “enhance the ability of our armed forces to communicate beyond line-of-sight among one another in all circumstances in a secure mode”, it said.

The MoD added that it has designated the procurement as a ‘Make in India' project, which envisages the design, development, and launch of the satellite from within India.

The GSAT-7C satellite has been developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), with support from local industry including state-owned company Bharat Electronics Limited.

In December 2018 the ISRO launched the GSAT-7A satellite, which is also operated by the IAF.

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

The Indian Army also has use of approximately 30% of GSAT-7A's capacity for communication and networking until its own GSAT-series satellite is launched. In 2013 the ISRO launched GSAT-7, the organisation's first multiband satellite for the Indian Navy.

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