Indian Navy to upgrade communication systems, to modernise HF Broadcast Transmission Systems | The Financial Express

Indian Navy to upgrade communication systems, to modernise HF Broadcast Transmission Systems

“The HF transmitter and receiving systems require extremely large antennas that are up to the standards of the military,” explained a senior officer.

Indian Navy to upgrade communication systems, to modernise HF Broadcast Transmission Systems
The Navy mandates that the operating frequency range be between 1.5 and 30 MHz. (Photo source: Bel India)

The Indian Navy is on a communications upgrade spree and has sent out Request for Information (RfI) to acquire around 50 advanced High Power HF Broadcast Transmission Systems (HPHBTS) along with accessories, antennae systems, and remote keying facilities.

This is to replace or modernise existing HF Broadcast Transmitting Stations (TS) at various locations to provide long-range and reliable HF Broadcast communication within the Navy. “The HF transmitter and receiving systems require extremely large antennas that are up to the standards of the military,” explained a senior officer.

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The Navy mandates that the operating frequency range be between 1.5 and 30 MHz. Its most common application is in long-distance communications, such as those conducted by the shipping and aviation industries, as well as by radio amateurs and broadcasters worldwide. The function is accomplished by bouncing the signal off of the ionosphere and back down to receiving stations that are waiting. It is susceptible to changes in the surrounding atmosphere, which can cause fading and noise. The operational range extends from five hundred to several thousand Kms.

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According to Girish Linganna, Aerospace and Defence Analyst, “The purpose of modernising existing transmitting stations with more advanced HPHBTS systems is to enhance the capabilities of those transmitting stations so that they can provide higher data rates and more reliable HF digital broadcast communication for naval units both afloat and ashore around the world. The capabilities that are envisioned for the system include remote operations, such as keying of Morse (CW) and data communication, which would be done from Broadcast Controlling Stations over naval terrestrial, Satcom, or wireless networks utilising Transmitters and Antennae at Transmitting Stations.”

In addition to voice and CW operations, the capacity of data transmission and file sharing functions is mentioned in the RfI. The system should be capable of establishing a communication network in addition to the provision of a relay facility, which would enable the data to be re-sent immediately on the same or another frequency, depending on the situation. The receiving of data through the serial port on the built-in modem for the purpose of data communications is also mentioned in the proposal.

The document also mentions the ECCM for electronic countermeasures for secure and jam-resistant voice and data links.

“It is necessary for the HPHBTS set to have the capacity for remote control through the use of an external PC or laptop. Both the printed circuit boards (PCBs) and application software of the remote control laptop or desktop PC must be compatible with the most recent versions of operating systems. The system should be able to be operated remotely through both terrestrial and wireless technologies used by the Navy,” adds Linganna.

From the time it is delivered to naval transmitting stations, the overall lifespan of the equipment should be at least 12.5 years. To ensure that the equipment can be maintained for an additional three to five years after the warranty has expired, each set is to be supplied with a consolidated set of Base and Depot (B&D) spares and a set of Onboard Ship (OBS) spares. The vendor is obligated to give an undertaking that all future changes to the system’s software and hardware will be made available to the Navy.

In the past, the majority of communication sets in the VLF, V/UHF, and HF frequency bands were obtained first through import and were subsequently created or provided as services via Transfer of Technology (ToT) by public sector organisations such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL),ECIL, and others.

Other communication networks 

For satellite communication, SATCOM terminals that operate in the UHF, S, Ku, and C bands are essential for communication to occur. Currently, UHF and S bands terminals have been procured by the Navy from within the country. It will also be necessary to develop SATCOM terminals indigenously for the C and Ku bands, which are mostly procured from Israel.

Most of these SATCOMs are now more than 10–12 years old, and the field units have reported problems relating to product support and a slowdown in data transfer. The Navy is contemplating the purchase of SATCOM terminals that are compatible with C-band and Ku-band frequencies and have increased data and communication transfer rates.

The Indian Navy is also building a Naval Communications Network (NCN) that involves 2900 km of optical fibre cable. Sterlite Tech will be responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of the digital communications network that will be provided to the Indian Navy as part of the Rs 3,500 crore system integration projects. This will put the Indian Navy on par with the most advanced naval forces in the world. Once it is finished, it will link several Indian naval facilities as well as islands that are managed by India. A high-capacity Internet Protocol–Multi Protocol Label Switching (IP–MPLS) network is going to be built as part of this project.

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First published on: 08-12-2022 at 13:15 IST