In a leap to provide connectivity, the IAF today launched its own stand-alone Rs 300 crore cellular network through which secure video calling and other information exchange facilities will be provided to over 1.7 lakh personnel of the force.
The IAF also plans to issue around one lakh mobile handsets to its personnel of the rank of Sergeants and above to connect and provide secure 'end-point' connectivity to the air warriors deployed across the country. The captive network has been named 'Air Force Cellular'.
"With the IAF's 3G WCDMA project, we are taking a quantum leap forward in our quest to provide mobile and secure 'end-point' connectivity to the air warriors deployed across the length and breadth of our country," IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said while launching the AFCEL.
He said the network will facilitate real time exchange of information in "an ever dynamic operational environment that we operate in".
"I am certain that provision of this capability will keep our men and women connected to the Information Grid and ensure high situational awareness as well as greater synergy in Command and Control functions," Browne said.
IAF officials said the mobile phones of the network would not be able to make calls to or receive calls from outside the network developed by the IAF in collaboration with HCL and Alcatel Lucent India.
"While Phase I of the project will ensure mobile connectivity to all air warriors in the National Capital Region, its Phase II will cover the rest of the bases," IAF officials said.