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By Bulbul Singh

12 Jan 09. Israel Aerospace Industries [IAI] has bagged the contract to develop the Operational Data Link [ODL] for the Indian Air Force. The system will enable sharing of critical information among IAF units and will filter information coming from the battlefield, allowing speedier decisions. ODL is in the initial stages of the project for building Networking Centric Warfare solutions for the Indian Air Force [IAF]. IAI won the contract against Rafael of Israel. ODL will be integrated, tested, proven and operationalised by early 2011.

IAI will train a team of IAF personnel comprising 10 pilots, 10 engineers/operators and 20 technicians at Indian facilities to operationalise and maintain the ODL System.

A senior Indian Air Force official said, “In the current contract, there will not be any Transfer of Technology, although there will be in
subsequent contracts on building additional ODLs. The IAF official said,”There will be a repeat order in the future for building a larger network of ODL systems from IAI as the current contract is for a pilot project.”

The Indian Air Force proposes to conduct an ODL pilot project to network selected platforms and limited ground entities to gain an insight into the various issues, evolve Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), integrate the platform mission computers of selected platforms and carry out training of operating and maintenance personnel, added the IAF official.

The ODL will connect all aerial platforms for combat, strike, surveillance, recce and EW missions. Information between the Ground Command and Control Centres will be exchanged with the help of ODL on real-time basis.

The ODL will be secure for both voice and data at the transmission and message level, with the provision of ECCM features. In addition, ODL will be capable of providing digitized speech, in the ECCM mode without sacrificing intelligence and recognition of voice.

ODL is part of the bigger Network Centric Operation project, the Aerospace Planning and Execution (APEX) system, which will meet the requirements of Air Force operations planning, preparation, execution monitoring, battle damage assessment whilst maintaining and constantly updating a Common Operational Picture(COP), Central Intelligence Center database and status of all assets on land, sea, air and space, on real-time basis.

APEX will network airborne platforms, including IAF fighters, transport, helicopters and also the surveillance platforms including AWACS, UAV, Space & ground radars to create a real-time picture.

In addition, APEX will network the Command & Control (C2 grid) nodes comprising of real time and non-real time entities. On the real-time basis, the system will control and report centers at the theatre level, regional level and base level, to initiate tactical action on threat assessment. The non-real time entities will include the Operations Centre at theatre level, regional level, base level & unit level for situational awareness, Air Operations Centre (AOC) and other centers.

The Indian Air Force officer said,” APEX will also network communication providers including wireless networks and data link between mobile platforms for air-to-air, air-to-ground/ground-to-air communication.”

India’s state-owned Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics
Limited (HAL)has been nominated as the nodal agency which
will collaborate with IAI facilitating interface with systems including airborne radar, weapon system operation , EW and navigation data.

The Indian Air Force will also procure a program called
Integrated Air Command, Control and Communication System (IACCCS),
which will integrate air command, control and communication systems and modernize the existing Air Defence Ground Environment System as part of the ongoing program of network centric warfare

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