India’s Domestic Expertise Takes Centerstage As ISTAR Jets Bridge Intelligence Gap
The integration of cutting-edge technology and domestic expertise positions India to be at the forefront of aerial surveillance capabilities
In a strategic move to bolster its aerial surveillance capabilities, India is set to acquire three Bombardier Global 6000 private jets, intended for conversion into cutting-edge Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) platforms. These aircraft will be outfitted with state-of-the-art sensor packages developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), aimed at elevating the reconnaissance capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
India’s DRDO, specifically the Center for Airborne Systems (CABS) laboratory, will play a pivotal role in the development of sensors tailored for these ISTAR platforms. The sensor package comprises a Multispectral (EO-IR) Long-Range Oblique Photography (LOROP) sensor, a geo-spatial intelligence processing and exploitation suite, high data-rate line-of-sight (LOS) and Satcom data-links, an onboard mission communications suite, and the integration of artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) capabilities. These capabilities encompass image intelligence, automatic target recognition, change detection, and the establishment of a Common Operational Picture (COP).
ISTAR’s Vital Function in National Security
While India had initially planned to procure these aircraft directly from US defense contractor Raytheon, with Raytheon providing the technology for the ISTAR program, recent developments indicate a shift. DRDO’s CABS is set to lead the program, emphasizing domestic development to create advanced surveillance capabilities.
The ISTAR platform serves a crucial role in intercepting enemy signals and furnishing critical information to ground commanders. This empowers decision-makers to make informed choices regarding counterstrikes. By providing precise targeting data, the ISTAR platform assists ground forces in determining the optimal deployment of weapons with precision.
Seamless Coordination for Enhanced Situational Awareness
The ISTAR-equipped aircraft will establish a robust two-way communication link with all reconnaissance platforms. This network includes satellites, other aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, and ground reconnaissance vehicles. This seamless coordination ensures real-time intelligence sharing among all relevant assets. This, in turn, elevates situational awareness and enhances response capabilities.
India’s pursuit of these advanced ISTAR platforms underscores its commitment to national security and defence readiness. The integration of cutting-edge technology and domestic expertise positions India to be at the forefront of aerial surveillance capabilities. This proactive approach ensures that India can effectively respond to evolving security challenges and continue to safeguard its territorial integrity.