Exercise Skylight: Indian Army's large scale test of satellite-based systems
Several external agencies, including ISRO, also participated in Exercise Skylight. The exercise, which was held from July 24-29 in Andaman and Nicobar Island, Jammu & Kashmir, the eastern and southern part of the country, activated 100 per cent of all satellite communication assets in the Indian Army.
Keeping in mind that future warfare will be dominated by technologies, the Indian Army has carried out 'Exercise Skylight' on a large scale for the first time across the country to ensure operational readiness of all satellite-based systems.
Sources in the defence establishment said that the exercise, which was held from July 24-29 in Andaman and Nicobar Island, Jammu & Kashmir, the eastern and southern part of the country, activated 100 per cent of all satellite communication assets in the Indian Army.
In this exercise, more than 200 static terminals, over 80 transportable vehicles and man portable-based systems were tested. With the successful validation of all communication satellites, the Indian Army has planned to hold such exercises regularly to review the operational preparedness of the systems.
During the exercise, the communication satellite performed well even in bad weather, snowbound areas and rains. The troops on the ground did not face any challenges in receiving the information or messages from the Command.
Apart from the Indian Army, the sources said that several external agencies, including ISRO, also participated in the exercise. Indian Army to have its own satellite system by 2025
Currently, the Indian Army doesn’t have its own satellite and is taking service of a number of ISRO satellites. There are over hundreds of communication terminals of various types connected to ISRO satellites.
It is pertinent to mention here that currently, India has only two dedicated military satellites -- the GSAT-7 (Rukmini) and GSAT-7A (Angry Bird) -- used by the Indian Navy and Air Force, respectively.
In March this year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh-headed Defence Acquisition Council accorded approval of GSAT-7B for the Indian Army, which has been designed as first of its kind indigenous multiband satellite with advanced security features.
Sources said, "By 2025, we will get this satellite communication system."
Talking about the advantages of the GSAT-7B satellite system, the sources said it would support tactical communication requirements for not only troops deployed on the ground, but also for remotely piloted aircraft, air defence weapons and other mission-critical and fire support platforms.
Why is a Space-based communication system or satellite system important?
During wartime, the communication system plays a significant role in gaining ground over enemy forces, and it is the terrestrial communications which get affected when a fight breaks out.
The Ukrainian forces have experienced it during the ongoing war with Russia. The work of all terrestrial Internet operators was easily blocked since it was an important channel for the transmission of operational information.
During combat operations, possession of operational data is of paramount importance.
In India's northern front -- bordering China, the geographic situation is such that the chances of the terrestrial communication system failing is high. So space-based communication is of utmost need for carrying out operations smoothly.
The Indian Army has also conducted a study on military communication systems and electronic warfare in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war. The study stressed the need for enhancing the space-based communication system.
Quantum computing for enhancing information secrecy
In collaboration with the Industry and academia, the Indian Army has been focusing on developing Quantum Computing applications for Communications and Cryptography.
"Indian Army has already taken the lead by way of establishing a Quantum Lab for evolving advanced concepts for applications and ushering further R&D on related technologies in collaboration with industry and academia. Information Warriors of the Army will be armed with the requisite knowledge which will facilitate in smooth induction of Quantum systems," sources said.