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IRNSS significance and application

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IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system being developed by India. It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area. An Extended Service Area lies between primary service area and area enclosed by the rectangle from Latitude 30 deg South to 50 deg North, Longitude 30 deg East to 130 deg East.

IRNSS will provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users and Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the authorised users. The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.


The space segment consists of the IRNSS constellation of seven satellites. Three satellites will be located in suitable orbital slots in the geostationary orbit and the remaining four will be located in geosynchronous orbits with the required inclination and equatorial crossings in two different planes. All the satellites of the constellation are being configured identically. The satellites are configured with I-1K Bus to be compatible for launch on-board PSLV.


All the seven satellites in IRNSS constellation will have continuous radio visibility with the Indian control station and will transmit ranging signals using codes and data in S and L5 bands. ISRO has hinted that depending upon the developments in the future, the seven satellite configuration of IRNSS will be augmented with more spacecraft that would ultimately help expand the service of the IRNSS constellation. – See

Some applications of IRNSS are:

Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation, Disaster Management, Vehicle tracking and fleet management, Integration with mobile phones Precise Timing, Mapping and Geodetic data capture, Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers Visual and voice navigation for drivers

The IRNSS Signal-in-Space Interface Control Document (ICD) for Standard Positioing Service (SPS) is released to the public to provide the essential information on the IRNSS signal-in-space, to facilitate research & development and aid the commercial use of the IRNSS signals for navigation-based applications.

By all means, a home grown GPS system like IRNSS could serve as a strategic asset of tremendous significance, especially during wartime to counter the possibility of international navigation satellite service providers denying access to the Indian armed forces. Dedicated navigation satellites have become an indispensable tool for the aircraft, warships and ground based forces to get a head start in the battlefield and derive tremendous tactical advantages to take the adversary by surprise. Clearly the GPS receivers designed to work with signals transmitted by GPS satellites allows the soldiers to find objects and identify targets even under the cover of darkness, inclement weather or in an unfamiliar territory. Indeed as strategic analysts point out, proper navigation in an unfamiliar territory that is devoid of easily identifiable landmarks is fundamentally vital for the successful accomplishment of reconnaissance missions and well planned military operations. Incidentally, during India’s 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, Indian patrols operating in the rugged and difficult to negotiate terrain along the Line of Control (LOC)initially strayed into enemy held territory with disastrous consequences. However, the subsequent availability of hand held GPS receivers proved to be invaluable for the special task forces and crack teams engaged in identifying targets and destroying enemy installations.

Indeed, the Indian defence establishment has learnt the hard way that inputs provided by GPS devices could be exploited to coordinate the movement of troops and supply with a high degree of efficiency. In a military scenario, potential targets need to be constantly tracked before they are flagged as hostile and engaged by various  weapons systems and it is here that GPS systems assumes significance. By feeding the GPS derived data, weapons such as smart bombs, projectiles and even cruise missiles could be guided to hit targets with a high degree of precision. The GPS in tandem with GIS (Geographic Information Service) allows military planners to pictorially view, plan, interpret and visualize data in ways that reveal solution and intelligence as never before.

As it is, most of the combat aircraft now come equipped with GPS gadgets not only for guiding the flight of the aircraft under the cover of darkness, haze and cloud but also to use weapons and ammunition with vastly enhanced efficiency. Indeed, access to GPS capability is vital to stay ahead of the adversaries in the thick of the battlefield. And India cannot afford to lag behind in operating an independent satellite navigation system that Indian defence forces can freely access to boost their combat capability in all their manifestations.

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