Chandigarh, 31 December
With the increasing use of satellite-based communication systems in the armed forces, the military is developing portable adapters that can convert a conventional Android cellular phone into a satellite phone.
“What we need is a programmable handheld adapter that can be connected to any Android phone via micro-USB or Bluetooth to convert it into a satellite phone,” said an official.
According to sources, the project will be outsourced to Indian industry through a competitive bidding process. The device should weigh less than 500 grams with talk time of at least two hours and standby time of at least 10 hours.
Imported adapters for converting cellular phones to satellite phones are also available in the commercial market, but the Army’s emphasis is on indigenous development. These adapters can be used by the Air Force and Navy as well as other services.
“Satellite phones are available in limited numbers and only through specific foreign service providers,” said an official. “On the other hand, everyone has a cell phone which can be connected to our own communication satellite network through indigenous adapters,” he said.
While cellular phone coverage is not available in many areas in the mountains and deserts where the armed forces are stationed because there are no cellular towers nearby for connectivity, satellite phones do not face such restrictions and can reach Earth. But it can be accessed from virtually any point.
The military has satellite-based radio sets for communications, but these largely interconnect units and formations. Converting mobile phones to satellite phones will make one-to-one communication and the transfer of data between individuals or small groups faster and more convenient.
The military is also looking at ways to make satellite phone communications more secure by developing anti-jamming and anti-spoofing circuits that could be integrated into handsets.
Earlier this year, the Army conducted Exercise Skylight, a pan-India drill, to test the operational preparedness of its satellite-based assets and the personnel manning them. All communication systems using satellites were activated and various functional procedures and technical parameters were validated.