Indian Defense buys Tactical Software Defined Radio from Bharat Electronics

India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Defense Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) signed a contract for the supply of Software Defined Radio Tactical Device (SDR-Tac) worth over Rs 1,000 crore in New Delhi on February 8 , 2021
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SDR-Tac jointly designed and developed by the Defense Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL) of the Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) (Image source: BEL)

SDR-Tac jointly designed and developed by Defense Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL) of Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) through a consortium of local agencies and industry including Weapons and Electronics Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE), BEL, Center for Artificial Intelligence and robotics (CAIR) and the Indian Navy will bring strategic depth to the armed forces. Delivery will take place within three years. BEL is already supplying SDR-Naval Combat (NC) and SDR-Air is undergoing user evaluation trials. DRDO and BEL plan to provide the latest security-classified SDRs to the armed forces.

The SDR-Tac is a four-channel multi-mode, multi-band, 19” rack-mounted, marine software-defined radio system. It is intended to serve ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and ship-to-air voice and data communications for network-centric operations. It supports simultaneous operation of the four channels covering V/UHF and L Band. This SDR system contains multiple waveform types for narrowband and wideband applications. MANET waveforms are available in UHF and L-Band to support adhoc network function for network oriented operations. User evaluation trials covering comprehensive port phase and sea phase trials were successfully completed in May to June 2018 at Visakhapatnam for all waveforms including V/UHF and L-Band MANET waveforms under various network configurations.

Interoperability tests were also successfully conducted with all other form factors covering Airborne SDR-AR on board Dornier Aircraft, SDR-Tac on board INS Kirch in float mode, SDR-Manpack and SDR-Handheld. All aspects were successfully assessed by all fleet user agencies and procurement authorization was granted.

The armed forces need to transition from the single-purpose radio of the past to more flexible software-defined radios (SDRs) to serve most of their wireless communication needs. These SDRs will be backward compatible with existing Indian radios. Different service groups require different form factor radios for specific platforms and waveforms/applications. SDRs allow the use of a common waveform/application implementation methods for different form factors. They also allow futuristic waveforms to be implemented on the same hardware using software programmability, thus ensuring longer life and cost savings.

A key factor in SDR is that software programmability allows easy changes to basic radio characteristics such as modulation types, operating frequencies, frequency bands, multiple access schemes, source and channel encoding/decoding methods, propagation/de- spreading and encryption/decryption algorithms . Traditional hardware-oriented radios require hardware changes to modify these basic characteristics. Many types of radio equipment can be replaced with multi-mode, multi-band, multi-function SDRs in suitable form factors.

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