Navy satellite by next year: Antony

It is expected to significantly improve connectivity at sea


Addressing the naval commanders’ conference, Antony said the launch of a naval communication satellite, next year would significantly improve connectivity at sea.
With the launch of this satellite, the Navy would take the lead among the three services by having its own dedicated satellite.

The minister’s announcement is a rare official admission of the naval satellite in four years. Even though many high-ranking naval officials, including former navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, admitted commissioning the Indian Space Research Organisation to build the satellite, ISRO officials always denied building the naval satellite.

ISRO would also develop receiving stations, including sensitive antennae, to be fitted on board the battleship, that can receive the satellite signals clearly, despite the usual pitch and roll in open sea. The Cabinet Committee on Security is believed to have earmarked Rs 400 crore for the naval satellite in 2005. In 2005, then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee stated in Parliament that India was building a satellite-based military surveillance and reconnaissance system that will become operational by 2007.

Antony said that Navy was investigating allegations of bribes paid by an US firm to naval officials. Indian envoy Meera Shankar wrote to the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary T K A Nair in May alleging that an agent of the US firm York International Corporation had paid off Rs 61 lakh as bribe to navy officers between 2000 and 2006 for placing over 200 orders with the global heating and air conditioning firm.

The letter also mentioned seven other Indian agencies, including the Maharashtra Electricity Board, Indian Railways and the Central Insecticides Board officials too having received kickbacks from other US firms.

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