BANGALORE: India will launch seven satellites in the next four to six years to develop its own version of the Global Positioning System for enhancing surveillance capabilities and improving accuracy of its weapon systems.
The Indian Navigation System satellites would provide coverage over India’s areas of interest for military purposes along with its civilian uses, IAF sources told PTI here.
Till now, India is dependent on the American GPS and has signed a deal with Russia for using their GLONAS system but having an indigenous system would guarantee the availability of system during crisis or conflicts.
Asked about similar developments in the neighbourhood, they said China was developing its own version of the GPS which will cover the whole globe.
“But we don’t want to cover the whole world and want to focus on the region important for us,” the sources said.
The system is also likely to be used for other purposes like telecommunications, transport, identifying disaster areas and public safety among others.
The satellites will be placed at a higher geostationary orbit to have a larger signal footprint and lower number of satellites to map the region, they said. The GPS system is available for civilian uses only.
Preparing itself for a two-front war scenario, the IAF has sent a proposal to the defence ministry to increase its sanctioned fighter aircraft strength from 39.5 to 45 squadrons.
“We have proposed to increase our squadron strength from 39.5 to 45 squadrons and it is under consideration of the defence ministry,” the IAF sources said.
The current squadron strength of the force is 33. A squadron comprises around 18 to 20 aircraft.
In view of increasing Chinese military deployments along the line of actual control, the IAF has been strengthening its presence in the northeastern sector and has plans of deploying four squadrons of the air superiority Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft there by 2015.
Asked about the timeframe in which the IAF was looking to achieve these numbers, they said the future acquisitions would depend on the sanctions accorded to the service by the government.
Under its modernisation plans, air bases on the western front are also being equipped with modern airfield infrastructure and new fighter planes.
The IAF has plans of inducting more than 350 fighter jet aircraft by the end of this decade which includes the 126 multi-role combat planes (M-MRCA), over 160 new Su-30MKIs and over 140 indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft.
The contract for the new Su-30s has already been signed and the orders for 126 M-MRCA are expected to be placed by the end of September this year.
Six aircraft including Russian MiG-35, American F-16 and F/A-18, Swedish Gripen, European Eurofighter and French Rafale are in the race for the M-MRCA contract, which is expected to cost USD 11 billion.
The IAF is also phasing out its old Russian-origin fleet of MiG aircraft — the 21, 23 and 27 series. The oldest MiG-21 Type-77 is likely to be decommissioned by the end of next year.