In­dian Army’s TCS pro­gramme

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch ]

The Tac­ti­cal Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sys­tem (TCS) of the In­dian Army has been in the news in re­cent times in terms of Tata Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices hav­ing as­sisted the In­dian Army re­place its legacy mes­sag­ing sys­tem with an au­to­mated mes­sag­ing sys­tem; a mes­sag­ing sys­tem that re­lays se­cured in­for­ma­tion from one user to another, us­ing the con­cept of mo­bile nodes which can be de­ployed in far-flung lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing in dis­as­ter relief sit­u­a­tions with highly se­cure sys­tem hav­ing mul­ti­ple lev­els of se­cu­rity in­cor­po­rat­ing FORTIORA suite of se­cu­rity prod­ucts. This is just a small part of up­grad­ing net­worked com­mu­ni­ca­tions, which form the back­bone of an ef­fec­tive com­mand and con­trol sys­tem though some mod­ern fre­quency hop­ping ra­dio sets with in­te­gral en­cryp­tion have been in­tro­duced into ser­vice in re­cent years.

In 1996, the ex­ist­ing Plan Army Ra­dio Engineering Net­work (AREN) sys­tem, ear­lier de­signed as the back­bone of Army’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion that was de­signed to roll for­ward, came up for ur­gent re­view hav­ing be­come out­dated. The TCS was born out of a re­al­i­sa­tion that AREN had to be re­placed and an up­grade would not be suf­fi­cient, as was en­vis­aged ear­lier es­pe­cially since legacy ra­dio sys­tems were not de­signed to con­nect to broad-reach­ing IP-based net­works. In­ter­est­ingly in 2005, when Pak­istan pur­chased RF5800H-MP Har­ris ra­dios at a cost of $76 mil­lion, they al­ready had state-of-the-art TCS equip­ment.

As the al­ter­na­tive to the sur­ren­dered 3G spec­trum by the Mil­i­tary, the new op­ti­cal fi­bre cable (OFC) net­work be­ing laid will pro­vide mod­ern land­line com­mu­ni­ca­tions in peace sta­tions and to lim­ited ex­tent in the tac­ti­cal bat­tle area (TBA). How­ever, the crit­i­cal void is in sup­port­ing the tac­ti­cal com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion (Tac C3I) sys­tem com­ing up in the Army, par­tic­u­larly in the bat­tle­field man­age­ment sys­tem (BMS), bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance sys­tem (BSS) and the com­mand in­for­ma­tion and de­ci­sion sup­port sys­tem (CIDSS), be­sides oth­ers, all of which re­quire wide-band data ca­pa­bil­i­ties to fa­cil­i­tate real-time trans­mis­sion of im­ages and bat­tle­field video while on the move all the way down to the cut­ting edge in­clud­ing in­fantry bat­tal­ions, ar­moured and ar­tillery reg­i­ments. The In­dian Army has a com­plete Corps nom­i­nated as test bed but none of the op­er­a­tional in­for­ma­tion sys­tems (OIS) un­der de­vel­op­ment and al­ready fielded could be tested as re­quired at full Corps level. This was be­cause of lack of the TCS. The TCS had been ap­proved thrice by De­fence Min­is­ters in the past and should have been fielded in the Army in year 2000 but ev­ery time the whole case was worked afresh af­ter clos­ing the pre­vi­ous case file – an ex­treme in red tape-ism and lack­adaisi­cal ap­proach to vi­tal is­sues. Trun­cated test bed for in­for­ma­tion sys­tems re­sult in avoid­able prob­lems com­ing up at field­ing and equip­ping stage that could have been cor­rected in the test bed stage it­self. Con­cur­rent are avoid­able ad­di­tional costs ac­cru­ing through re­quired im­me­di­ately post field­ing th­ese sys­tems.

Tac­ti­cal Con­trol Radar Reporter

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