Battlefield commanders’ communication system hangs fire for a decade

March 25th, 2008 - 9:11 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) A critical mobile communication system that will enable the Indian Army commanders direct the conduct of a battle in real time could finally see the light of day a decade after it was conceived, a senior officer said Tuesday. “Personalities have delayed the project,” the Indian Army’s Signal Officer-in-Chief, Lt. Gen S.P. Sree Kumar, said cryptically of the Tactical Communications System (TCS) that has been in the pipeline since 1998.

“It will happen some day. When it will happen, I can’t say,” he said while addressing an army-industry interface to announce the DEFCOM India-2008 international seminar on network centric technologies to be held here May 27-28.

“Three defence ministers have cleared the project. Three departments of the defence ministry - finance, acquisitions and defence production - have cleared the project. It was then sent to the finance ministry which made certain observations,” Kumar said.

“The observations were addressed. Then, during a presentation to the new defence secretary, a certain personality who I do not want to name pointed to the new procedures (for defence acquisitions) that needed to be followed,” he added.

“There was then a meeting of the army chief, the vice chief, the (two) deputy chiefs and myself. We will now prepare a note for the CCS (cabinet committee on security). We are now moving forward but as to when (the final approval will be received), I can’t say,”

The TCS, which will cost in the region of $1 billion, will replace the ageing Army Radio Engineering Network (AREN) system that was put in place in the 1980s.

It will employ cutting-edge technologies to provide a fully mobile communication system for the Indian Army, putting it at par with the most sophisticated tactical mobile systems in use around the world.

In the AREN system, orders are communicated up and down the chain of command in incremental steps. With TCS, commanders will be able to directly communicate with soldiers on the frontline.

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