India’s state-owned defence and aerospace firm Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has received a contract worth Rs4.88bn ($70.64m) to manufacture software defined radios for the Indian Navy.

The contract was signed with the Indian Defence Ministry. It represents a key milestone in the country’s plans for domestic series production of advanced technology SDRs.

India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has designed and developed the SDRs.

The organisation was assisted by multiple agencies including Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR) and the Indian Navy’s Weapon and Electronics System Engineering Establishment (WESEE).

The contract will involve the replacement of existing hardware-based legacy communication sets with software-based multi-band, multi-functional and multi-role/mission radios.

This is to enable secure communication for improved information sharing and situational awareness.

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The SDRs feature domestic waveforms capable of providing a wide range of frequency usage and capability enhancement.

Sputnik International reported in August last year that the military radio communication system will enable networking of naval battlefield resources on the move. The radios are also expected to improve the operational capabilities of the navy.

The DRDO worked on the Integrated Development of Software-Defined Radio for navy (INDESDR) project for eight years.

Following the development of the radios, the organisation conducted user trials for five different SDRs.

In November 2017, Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by the then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved the procurement of more than 260 SDRs.

Earlier this year, BEL reached a technical collaboration agreement (TCA) with Israel’s Elbit Systems for helmet-mounted display system (HMDS).

Under this agreement, the company will manufacture HMDS/helmet pointing system (HPS) Version 02 in India under a licence.

These systems are planned to be integrated into the Indian Naval and other rotary wing platforms of the armed forces.