The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the creation of a secure communication system for the army at a cost of Rs 7,800 crore, a significant move that will enhance network coverage in forward areas including the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) and provide a major boost to the operational preparedness of the army “especially keeping in view the current operational situation at the LAC,” the defence ministry said.
Separately, the ministry inked a Rs 409-crore contract with a private company for the first time to supply a million hand grenades to the army to replace a World War-II vintage design currently in use, in what will provide a boost to the Make in India initiative, officials said.
The CCS cleared the long-pending proposal for establishing the Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON) Phase IV, with the project to be implemented by Indian Telephone Industries Limited — a public sector firm under the department of telecommunication, ministry of communications — under a Rs 7,796-crore contract signed on Thursday. The communication network will be functional in three years.
“The project will provide better survivability, responsiveness and high bandwidth in any operational scenario and enhance the communication coverage of network closer to the International Border, Line of Control and Line of Actual Control,” the defence ministry said in a statement. The army had been pursuing the project for a few years to upgrade its communication facilities in remote areas.
The network will extend the high bandwidth communication to the remote operational areas in central and eastern sectors and enhance communication reach to the forward locations in the western border too, officials said.
The statement said the project would augment the army’s communication network in sensitive operational areas and provide a major boost to its operational preparedness, especially keeping in view the current situation at the LAC, where India and China have been locked in a border row for more than five months and both sides have made arrangements for the long haul in the eastern Ladakh theatre.