India’s defense ministry has signed a contract with NewSpace India Limited to deliver an advanced communications satellite to the Indian Army.
Unlike the air force and navy, the Indian Army does not have a dedicated satellite to support its missions.
Valued at 3,000 crore Indian rupee ($365 million), the new satellite is expected to provide mission-critical beyond line-of-sight communication to boost the capabilities of Indian soldiers.
It would reportedly support the tactical communication of the country’s air defense weapons, remotely piloted aircraft, and other platforms.
Most of the satellite’s components will be sourced from domestic manufacturers, boosting the government’s “Make in India” initiative.
The satellite will be handed over to the army by 2026, according to several reports.
India’s Present Satellites
India currently operates two military communication satellites.
The first one, the Indian Navy’s GSAT-7 (Rukmini), was launched in 2013 and has 11 transponders with ultra-high frequency to allow secure and smooth communication with submarines.
The other, the air force’s GSAT-7A (Angry Bird), was launched in 2018 with a domestically-built geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle.
Without its own satellite, the Indian Army only uses some of the transponders from the GSAT-7A.
In March 2022, the service proposed the GSAT-7B satellite to provide better communication capabilities across vast distances, including oceans.