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By Bulbul Singh

12 May 11. India has entered the global market to procure unspecified numbers of Software Defined Radios (SDR)worth $1 billion for the Indian Air Force (IAF), Army and Navy. RFIs are being sent to overseas companies, including Thales of France, Elta and Rafael of Israel, L-3 Communication of United States, Rohde & Schwarz of Germany and state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited(ECIL). While BEL has developed its own SDR, ECIL is in turn looking for global partners to develop SDRs.

The defence ministry has decided to enter the global market to purchase SDRs despite the fact that state-owned BEL has developed indigenous SDRs.

The SDRs will enhance IAF Network Centric capabilities. The IAF proposes to network platforms, ground sensors and command and control centres using advance SDRs.

The SDRs will be integrated on airborne and ground-based platforms, and will replace in-service radios for AM/FM voice connectivity on V/UHF bands.

The IAF will mount these on a variety of in-service aircraft including SU-30MKI, Jaguar, MiG-21, AWACS and mid air refueller aircraft. The ground installations will include the Air Command and Control System (IACCS) Ground Exploitation Systems for the AWACS.

The SDR should be a multi-channel radio set with software defined waveforms capable of security and jam-resistant networked voice, data and video communication and provide air-to-air, air-to-ground and ground–to-air and jam-resistant voice, data and video communication.

The hardware architecture requires that the radio set should be implemented in two chassis each with two independent radio frequency units. One unit should operate in the V/UHF frequency band and the other in L-Band.

The SDRs should have support key-controlled Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum of 800 hops per second as the primary ECCM mode.

In the current purchase the IAF requires that the SDRs should be able to support Adhoc Mobile network i.e. Masterless & Nodeless Dynamic TDMA network and the network protocols should be based on COTS IP V6 or later. The radio will have multiple RF channels (at least three), V/UHF, L-band & UHF SATCOM. Should incorporate growth potential for S-band and the radios should support conventional AM/FM communication as well as Digital Voice communication.

Data rates for L band should be at least 1 MBPS (effective throughput), UHF should be at least 600 kbps (effective throughput) and in UHF SATCOM should support data rate of not less than 16Kbps (effective throughput) for data in 25 KHz channel and not less than 3.6 Kbps (effective throughput) for voice with 5 KHz channel.

BEL, which has supplied over 200,000 radios using other then SDR technology, has also developed an SDR for the Army and is in the process of developing an SDR for the IAF. The Company is trying to convince the Indian defence ministry that the SDR tender should be given only on nomination basis. As the current bids are only Request for Information (RFI), BEL, with its past history can influence the bureaucrats to the final nomination.

However, with ECIL taking keen interest in the project, it will not be easy for BEL to get away with a clear nomination this time.

Defence companies here have complained to the Indian defence ministry on several occasions against the practice of nominating projects to state-owned defence companies, particularly BEL.

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