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India’s 3rd Military Satellite Gets Go-ahead From Defence Acquisition Council

GSAT-7B will boost Army’s network-centric warfare capability

Photo Credit : ISRO

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The GSAT 7 series of military satellites enable Indian forces to shape digitised battlefields

India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on March 22 initiated the development of GSAT-7B, the nation’s third dedicated military satellite, while granting ‘Acceptance of Necessity (AON)’ for military procurements worth Rs 8,357 Crore ($1.1 Billion). The AON is the first major step of approval, which sets the stage for the funding, development and acquisition process to be rolled out.

“All of these proposals have been approved under ‘Buy (Indian IDDM)’ category with focus on indigenous design & development and manufacturing in India,” the Ministry of Defence stated. The DAC is chaired by the Defence Minister and is the highest body in the Defence establishment for approving military purchases. 

As a reinforcement of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) agenda, the DAC also approved as a policy addendum to the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) that “all modernisation requirements of defence forces to be indigenously sourced and import to be resorted to only as exception”. In January, the Government foreclosed several big ticket military procurement programmes under the Import route as a demonstration of policy intent. 

AoNs accorded by DAC include procurement of Night Sight (Image Intensifier), Light Vehicles GS 4X4, Air Defence Fire Control Radar (Light), besides the GSAT-7B satellite.  The GSAT-7B, like its predecessors the GSAT-7 and GSAT-7A, will be a military communications satellite which will boost the infrastructure and capability for network-centric warfare, enabling Indian forces to operate in digitised battlefields. It will primarily serve the Indian Army’s communication and network centric warfare requirements. 

The GSAT-7 was built for the Indian Navy, while the follow-on GSAT-7B is primarily meant for the Indian Air Force. 

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the lead agency in developing the GSAT-7 series satellites and launching these into a geosynchronous orbit. 

“Acquisition of these equipment and systems will enhance operational preparedness of Armed Forces by providing better visibility, enhanced mobility, improved communication and increased capability of detecting enemy aircraft,” the Ministry of Defence stated. 

The DAC also opened up a new chapter giving the green signal for acquisition from start-ups under the iDEX construct. AONs for procurements aggregating to Rs 380.43 Crore were accorded for iDEX startups and MSMEs.

“iDEX and Make II procedures have been simplified thereby compressing timelines and ensuring early placement of contracts on successful iDEX and Make II vendors,” the Ministry of Defence stated.