As the month-long India-China military standoff at Doklam plateau continues, China on Tuesday had shot back at Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s remark saying even China is not what it was in 1962. Jaitley had responded to China’s earlier remark saying India should learn from historical lessons of 1962. Amid the verbal duel, China seems to have deployed a submarine in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). According to a report in India Today on Tuesday, China has positioned an Yuan class conventional diesel electric submarine in the IOR. The Indian Navy seems to have picked up the movement of the vessel in the region recently.
But the Indian Navy has been keeping a close tab on Chinese submarines entering the area through its very own military satellite GSAT-7. It was launched on September 29, 2013. With the help of this multi-band military communication satellite, also known as Rukmini, the Indian Navy can virtually expand its blue water capabilities and minimise reliance on other foreign satellites which provide intel to its ships.
What is Rukmini?
Weighing nearly 2,650 kg, Rukmini was the first military communication satellite developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the Indian Defence forces, with the Indian Navy being the primary user. Built on September 29, 2013, Rukmini is also the last of ISRO’s seven fourth-generation satellites which has at least a 2,000 nautical mile footprint over the IOR. Rukmini was launched early on August 30, 2013 atop an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from Kourou in French Guiana. This gave India a major push in maritime security.
How was it launched?
Rukmini was successfully placed into a geosynchronous orbit, around 36,000 km above Earth, nearly five days prior to its launch after at least three orbit-raising manoeuvres from ISRO’s Master Control Facility in Karnataka’s Hassan. Rukmini’s 2.5-tonne antennae, which included the ultra high frequency Helix antenna, were deployed before it was stabilised on its three-axis in the orbit. The Rs 185-crore Rukmini was launched during a 50-minute launch window which started at 2 am, and it was telecast live by Doordarshan.
What are its capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region?
Launched at the cost of approximately Rs 480 crore, Rukmini is used exclusively by the Indian Navy to secure real-time communications between its numerous warships, aircraft, submarines and land-based communication systems. The GSAT-7 is believed is markedly improve India’s maritime security in a wide section on the western and eastern flanks of the Indian Ocean region, among many others. A case in point was Operational Exercise (Tropex) in the Bay of Bengal in 2014, when Rukmini was successfully able to network around 60 ships and at least 75 aircraft effortlessly. The Indian Navy wants to use Rukmini to primarily cover activities up till the Malacca Straits in the east and the Hormuz Strait to the west. The GSAT-7 also has an approximate 2,000 nautical mile footprint over the IOR.
As per ISRO, Rukmini or GSAT-7 is an advanced communication satellite that will provide a wide range of service spectrum from low bit rate voice to high bit rate data communication. Scientists say its payload is designed to provide communication capabilities to users over a wide oceanic region, which include the Indian land-mass.
What was the cost of Rukmini?
The foreign launch cost of the GSAT-7 was around Rs. 480 crore, with the satellite costing at least Rs 185 crore.