The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) says elements of India’s Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) on the country’s western seaboard have been operationalized. A significant step has been taken toward improving maritime domain awareness (MDA) and securing India’s porous maritime borders after the November 2008 “26/11” Mumbai terrorist attacks by Pakistani terrorists who easily infiltrated into India’s largest metropolis, using a hijacked fishing vessel to wreak havoc for three days.
The first two clusters of remote surveillance stations (RSS) – in the states of Maharastra and Gujarat – were declared operational with formal inauguration ceremonies of a Remote Operating Center (ROC) in Mumbai and a Remote Operating Station (ROS) in Porbandar, Gujarat, on Aug. 25, 2012, by India’s Defense Minister A. K. Antony.
The CSN in the southern state of Kerala has four RSS sites already operational. These will be formally commissioned by Antony with the inauguration of a ROS at CG DHQ 4 at Fort Kochi on Sept. 15, 2012 .
Phase 1 of the CSN, with 46 static sensor stations – 36 on the mainland and six sited on the country’s island territories – will be completed by mid-2013, according to the defense minister, who added that mainland stations are due for completion by later this year.
Built under the Static Sensors Project of the CSN, sensors are typically located atop lighthouses (or alongside lighthouses) owned and operated by India’s Director General Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL). These sites have been strategically located to provide surveillance coverage out to 25 nautical miles in sensitive areas as well as areas with high-density maritime traffic along the Indian coastline.
Though the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likes to says that the CSN project, valued at more than INRs 6 bn ($125 million USD), is on schedule, it is actually somewhat delayed. Contractually, prime contractor Bharat Electronics (BEL) was to have implemented the mainland phase of the project in 12 months and the offshore sites in 18 months from contract signing in September 2011, but this is clearly not the case. The delay is likely due to “inherent complexities” in a project involving multi-agency coordination.
Comprehensive Sensor Suite for Real-time Surveillance
The sensor suite at each remote site comprises a 25-nautical-mile-range Terma Scanter 2100 HCP Frequency Diversity radar with a dual antenna for better performance in monsoon weather, and an Obzerv Technologies ARGC-2400 active-range gated electro-optic (EO) sensor with a range of up to 10 nautical miles in “fair weather.”
It also includes Automatic Identification System (AIS) equipment supplied by Saab Transponder Tech and a Marine Small Target Tracker – possibly sourced from Raytheon. It is presently capable of positive identification of vessels carrying class ‘A’ and ‘B’ AIS transponders, according to the Indian MoD.
The AIS is part of the National AIS chain funded by the DGLL and implemented by Saab, along with its Indian partner Elcome Marine Services. Saab says it received the order from DGLL in November 2010 and completed the project ahead of schedule in 2012.
The system also requires communications equipment such as VSAT Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satcom antennae as well as VHF communications sets, along with meteorological equipment.
“This project is one of the largest national AIS-based coastal surveillance systems ever to be deployed,” said Magnus Persson, vice president of operations, Saab TransponderTech, noting that the NAIS has been integrated with the Gulf of Kaachh (GOK) Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) radar network in the border areas adjoining Pakistan to provide a common operating picture (COP) by using correlated radar and AIS target data.
The Indian MoD describes the CSN as a “robust hierarchical network” connecting 12 district headquarters (DHQ), five regional headquarters (RHQ), and the Coast Guard Headquarters (CGHQ) at New Delhi. That is to say, clusters of networked remote static sensors sites are connected to a Remote Operating Station (ROS) located at each CGHQ. These ROS are connected to a Remote Operating Center (ROC) located at Coast Guard RHQs, which, in turn, are connected to a central Control Center at CGHQ.