IAF’s wait for own satellite gets longer

The Indian Air Force’s wait for its own satellite is getting longer because of a delay in obtaining a dedicated frequency band from the international regulatory body.

Like any other communication satellite, the IAF’s GSAT-7A, too, has to operate within a specific frequency band. The bands are allocated by the International Telecommunication Union.

Sources in the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) told DH that there was a delay in obtaining the frequency for GSAT-7A whose launch has been delayed by many years. The process to identify the frequency took time to ensure the allocated frequency doesn’t interfere with the satellites operating in the nearby frequency ranges.

Isro is looking at a launch window towards the end of 2017 if the scientists are able to ready another indigenous GSLV flight by then.

GSAT-7A will not be carried by GSLV Mark-III in its next developmental flight scheduled for March 2017, sources said. It would carry GSAT-19E, another civilian satellite.

GSAT-7 (Rukmini) and GSAT-7A are India’s only two dedicated military satellites made for the Navy and the IAF. While the Navy has had its communication satellite up in the sky since August 2013, the IAF is still waiting for one of its own.

The 2,650-kg naval satellite has transponders in Ku-band, S-band and an ultra-high frequency band to communicate with the submarines. It operates from an orbital location of 74 degrees east and has a life span of 15 years.

GSAT-7A, on the other hand, will have transponders only in the K-band, the Isro sources said, because of the IAF’s requirement.

With the Air Force increasingly moving towards network-centric warfare using a range of platforms like fighter jets, UAV and air-borne radars, communication support from a satellite has become absolutely essential.

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