NEW DELHI — India is buying a 29.63 billion rupees (U.S. $360.52 million) communications satellite, dubbed GSAT 7B, for its Army.

Currently, the service is using 30% of the communications capabilities provided by the GSAT 7A, a satellite designed for the Air Force.

A Defence Ministry statement issued March 29 said the government awarded the satellite contract to state-run NewSpace India Ltd., a commercial arm of the national space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation.

The launch of the 5-ton geostationary satellite is to take place in three and a half years.

As prime contractor, NewSpace India is to source numerous parts, subassemblies and systems from domestic small- and medium-scale enterprises as well as startup companies to promote the country’s private space industry.

The satellite will considerably enhance the Army’s capabilities by providing mission-critical, beyond-line-of-sight communication for troops and materiel, the ministry said. The satellite will operate at both X band and Ku band frequencies, and is meant to improve communication connectivity to provide network-centric warfare capabilities.

The GSAT 7B will also help the Army enhance its surveillance of contested border areas with China and Pakistan.

The satellite is also expected to provide integrated communication for the Navy and Air Force. It will comprise two units, one of which will operate in space and the other on the ground.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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