India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F11), carrying the GSAT-7A communication satellite, lifted off successfully from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro)'s spaceport at Sriharikota. The satellite will be used exclusively for military purposes.
The rocket blasted off from Sriharikotta at 4.10 p.m. on Wednesday, after a 26-hour countdown that started on Tuesday at 2.10 p.m.
The main passenger spacecraft weighing 2.2 tonnes will be placed in the geostationary orbit, making it Isro's 35th Communication satellite to be launched.
The total cost of the GSAT-7A, which has an estimated life of about nine years, is pegged at Rs 6-8 billion, according to Isro sources.
The satellite will enable the IAF to interlink different ground radar stations, airbases and AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) aircraft, such as Beriev A-50 Phalcon and DRDO AEW&CS. It will also also boost the Air Force's network-centric warfare capabilities and enhance its global operations.
The GSAT-7A spacecraft is configured on Isro’s standard I-2,000 Kg (I-2K) bus. It has been built to provide communication capabilities to users in Ku-band over Indian territory.
GSAT-7A is also expected to give a major push to drone operations, as it would help the Navy reduce reliance on on-ground control stations and take satellite control of military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). This, say industry experts, should help boost the range and endurance of the UAVs.
In addition to GSAT-7A, the IAF would also be getting the GSAT-7C in a few years, to boost the network-centric operations.
The GSAT-7 series was launched in 2013 as a dedicated communications satellite for the Indian Navy, making it completely independent of foreign satellites.
GSAT-7 currently has a 2,000-nautical mile footprint and provides real-time inputs to Indian warships, submarines and maritime aircraft.
According to reports, India has 13 military satellites, most of which have remote-sensing capabilities, like the Cartosat-series and RISAT satellites placed in the near-earth orbit for better scanning of Earth.
Other military satellites have been placed in the geostationary orbit, and are used for surveillance, navigation and communication by the armed forces.