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By Bulbul Sigh

02 Jun 08. India pressed the full throttle to procure Network Centric warfare solutions from home and abroad worth over $3bn. The tactical evaluations have begun for the $1bn NCW Operational Data Link (ODL) Program for the Indian Air Force in which Lockheed Martin and Raytheon of United States; Thales of France, Rafael of Israel and Singapore Technologies have contributed systems.

Under the ODL Program a variety of Indian Air Force assets will be networked via data links with ground stations via satellites. The ODL NCW Program will be carried out in phases and the entire Program will be in operational state by 2012.

This project aims to develop an Aerospace Planning & Execution (APEX) system to achieve the advantages of networked operations in a network centric operations (NCO) environment.

The state-of-art APEX system will carry out a variety of NCO requirements such as aerospace operations planning, execution monitoring, battle damage assessment and evaluation status of all assets on land, sea, air and space in real-time.

Under this project, a variety of airborne platforms: fighters, transport aircraft, helicopters, and surveillance platforms, including AWACS, UAVs, space and ground radars will be networked in the APEX system.

Besides, the ground stations in (command & control grid) nodes will consist of real-time ground stations – controlling & reporting centres at the battlefield, regional and base levels to monitor the common operational picture and initiate tactical action on threat assessment.

India’s state-owned Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been nominated as the nodal agency which will collaborate with the short-listed vendor for facilitating interface with airborne radar/data/display, weapon system operation, EW data and navigation data, etc for operationalizing the APEX system.

Currently the technical evaluation of the vendors is underway after which field trials will commence, then the short-listed vendor will commence price negotiations. “The ODL program is likely to be contracted within one year,” said a senior Indian defence ministry official who admitted that the program is already behind schedule.

The IAF has also short listed prototypes developed by Electronics Corporation of India and BEL for the integration of another NCW Program, Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) the first phase of which is likely to be operational by the end of this year and deployed near India’s western border with Pakistan.

The system will handle the service’s air traffic control, surveillance, air mission control, airspace management and force management functions.

The Indian Army will go global hunting this year for two NCW projects worth $600m called the Tactical Communication System (TCS), and Defence Communication Network (DCN) for the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy joint communication project.

TCS is a Communication Program linking the theatre and troops on the battlefield and is likely to be completed by 2012.

So far, the Indian Army has integrated an home-grown Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON), Mercury Thunder. ACSON is a digital, fully automated, secure and survivable static communication system that is based on microwave radio, optical-fibre cable, satellite and millimetre wave communication equipment,

Phase 1-3 have already been implemented. Phase 3 was ATM based network. Army has now planned the phase 4 of this project. It will be nationwide Carrier class multi protocol converged Next Generation Network for Army. Wipro, India’s IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited BEL & state-owned industrial Telephone Industries (ITI) have been short listed

The TCS architecture will comprise secure radios ,satellite terminal systems and fibre optic links and will also have new generation protection systems against hostile

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