India’s Defence Ministry has announced that it will replace the army’s Combat Net Radio (CNR) with state-of-the-art software defined radios (SDRs), which will be manufactured by Indian companies. Currently, CNR is the mainstay of communications for the Indian Army in the battlefield.

“To arm the soldiers with advantages offered by technology and equip him to fight a war in the Net–Centric battle space, present radios are to be replaced soon by indigenously developed Software Defined Radio (SDR), which have enhanced data transmission capability, enhanced voice clarity and data transmission accuracy in spectrally noisy environments,” the ministry announced on Thursday.

The SDRs – developed by the state-funded Defence Research and Development Organisation – supports multiple waveforms so the comms are harder to detect and jam by the enemy. At least 18 companies will make prototypes before one is awarded with the SDR contract. 

© AFP 2021 / MOHD ARHAAN ARCHER
An Indian fighter jet flies over a mountain range in Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh bordering China, on September 2, 2020.

A recent report prepared by the Indian Army Design Bureau warned that imported communication equipment has an increased threat from embedded viruses and malware. The defence ministry, on Friday, said that “SDRs gives greater system security and better communication survivability in clear and secure mode to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Army.”

The Indian Army has previously tried to overhaul is comms system through a global tender but failed for unknown reasons. 

It is estimated that army will spend over a billion dollars on buying next-generation equipment for the upgrade.