New army network may enable real time battlefield data transfer

By Indo Asian News Service | Wednesday, September 13, 2006 | 8:42:22 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) A newly inducted Indian Army communication network could eventually enable the transmission of real time battlefield data to top commanders during hostilities and also enable a qualitative improvement in relief and rescue operations when natural disasters strike.

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) A newly inducted Indian Army communication network could eventually enable the transmission of real time battlefield data to top commanders during hostilities and also enable a qualitative improvement in relief and rescue operations when natural disasters strike.

For the record, all the army would say about 'Mercury Thunder' the third phase of the Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON) that Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated here Wednesday is that it would enable troops stationed at the remotest of places like the Siachen Glacier to directly communicate with Army Headquarters here - if the need arises.

'With Mercury Thunder, we have taken a quantum leap forward in our communications capabilities by raising the number of channels on which voice conversations can be simultaneously transmitted from 120 to 10,000,' Lt. Gen. Davinder Kumar, the Indian Army Signals-officer-in-chief, explained.

Since the new system supports a mix of voice, data and video transfer, the number of channels available at any given time would depend on what mix of the three was adopted.

Defence analysts said the true capability of the project would be realised when it was used to transfer video images from, say the Jammu and Kashmir border to Army Headquarters in New Delhi.

'Hitherto, video images captured by an UAV (unarmed aerial vehicle) of movements along the LoC (Line of Control in Kashmir) are downloaded at a ground station in its area of operation and then sent on to the relevant field formations and area headquarters, as also to Army Headquarters,' an analyst explained.

'With the new system, it should be possible to do all this in real time, thereby considerably cutting down the reaction time,' the analyst added.

'Mercury Thunder' builds on 'Mercury Streak' that created an optical fibre cable (OFC) network for the army in 1995 and 'Mercury Flash' that provided a microwave network in 1998. The new system enables the integration of its predecessors with a satellite-based overlay that enables seamless transfers over all three systems.

Noting that 'Mercury Thunder' would become the 'strategic backbone network' of the Indian Army, Mukherjee said it 'will not only create space for a digitised battlefield but also support, facilitate and interconnect other network-centric systems like C3I (command, control, communications, information).

'These entities can now be location independent and simply plug and play into the information infrastructure of 'Mercury Thunder',' he added.

Pointing out that modern warfare 'is not limited in time, space, and boundaries', he said: 'Modern warfare is also asymmetrical. To meet these challenges, it is fundamental that the information infrastructure lends itself to unify national security interests strategically and tactically during war, peace, disasters or otherwise.

'It must help facilitate the objectives of the leaders and commanders. It is encouraging to learn that 'Mercury Thunder' not only synergizes but also extends our over all objectives through its pan-India presence,' the minister added.

And, with the art of 21st century warfare undergoing a paradigm shift and being transformed from platform centric to network centric, Mukherjee stated that with ''Mercury Thunder' we achieve a significant milestone in our march towards being a network centric army'.

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