₹7,800-crore secure communication network for Army in border areas

Defence Ministry also inks contract with private firm for the first time to supply a million hand grenades

Army at Ladakh
The system will strengthen the network coverage in forward areas, including the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and boost the operational preparedness of the Army, the Defence Ministry said. Representational image

India will now be in a better position to match China’s hi-tech communication network with the government on Friday (October 2) clearing a secure communication system project worth INR 7,800 crore for the Indian Army.

“The system will strengthen the network coverage in forward areas, including the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and boost the operational preparedness of the Army, especially keeping in view the current operational situation at the LAC,” the Defence Ministry said on Thursday (October 1).

The ministry also inked a INR 409-crore contract with a private company for the first time to supply a million hand grenades to the Army to replace a World War-II vintage design currently in use. This will boost the Make in India initiative, officials said.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Friday cleared the long-pending proposal for setting up the Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON) Phase IV. The project will be implemented by Indian Telephone Industries Ltd, a public sector unit under the Department of Telecommunication, Ministry of Communications, under the INR 7,796-crore contract signed on October 1. The communication network will be functional in three years.

“The project will provide better survivability, responsiveness and high bandwidth in any operational scenario and enhance the communication coverage of the network closer to the International Border, Line of Control and Line of Actual Control,” the Defence Ministry added.

The Army had been pursuing the project for a few years. The network will extend the high bandwidth communication to the remote operational areas in central and eastern sectors and enhance communication reach to the forward locations in the western border too, officials said.

The statement said the project would augment Army’s communication network in sensitive operational areas and provide a major boost to its operational preparedness, especially keeping in view the current situation along the LAC, where India and China have been locked in a border row for more than five months.

The project marks a significant communications technology upgrade. “The project is a strategic and theatre area communication network which will upgrade the existing Asynchronous Transfer Mode Technology to Internet Protocol (IP)/Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) Technology. Optical fibre cable, microwave radio and satellite will be used as the communication media,” the statement said.

The ASCON Phase IV project is expected to provide a boost to the local industry as it has an indigenous content of almost 80%.

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It will involve several activities including execution of civil works, laying of optical fibre cable and tower construction, generating employment in remote border areas, the statement said.

Besides, the Defence Ministry signed a contract with Nagpur-based private firm Economic Explosives Ltd (EEL) for supplying 1 million multi-mode hand grenades to the Army. These will replace a World War-II vintage hand grenade design being used by the Army and give a boost to the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” initiative.

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