DefExpo 2022: Indian Navy Looks Towards Development Of Integrated Masts

The Indian Navy’s Directorate of Electrical Engineering unveiled plans for development of Indigenous Integrated Masts (IIM) at DefExpo 2022. The development of IIM will be conducted in two phases. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will be the production partner for the project.

In Phase-I, the Navy requires masts with a height of 11m without the radome. The IIM Phase-I involves the “integration of R-ESM, COMINT, V/UHF communication and Data Link Antenna on a single mast without Radome. The final design envisages installation of data Link (L Band) antenna on top most part of the IIM, thereafter COMINT and ELINT antenna would be installed. The bottom most antenna will comprise Rhode and Schwarz make antenna for V/UHF communication.”

IIM Phase-I render (Adithya)

For IIM Phase-II, a shorter mast with a height between 8 – 11m with radome is envisaged. In this phase, the IIM will integrate R-ESM, COMINT, L Band Data Link, two sets of V/UHF communication antenna and an optional WiFi antenna. IIM Phase-II will have a frequency select radome that can withstand marine environments, reduce radar cross section and allow RF transmissions in multiple frequency bands for various antennas.

IIM Phase-II render (Adithya)

Earlier, Kyodo News had reported that Japan and India had agreed to cooperate on the transfer of the Unicorn mast system. This is currently used on the 30FFM frigates of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), also called Mogami class. The Unicorn mast includes the following antenna from top to bottom: ES-R antenna, ES-C antenna, WiFi band antenna, LINK-16 antenna, UHF antenna, IFF antenna, U/VHF antenna and TACAN antenna.

Although India and Japan have a robust defence partnership, bilateral collaboration in development of defence equipment is nascent. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) are currently conducting “Cooperative Research on Visual SLAM based GNSS Augmentation Technology for UGV or Robotics”. It is unclear whether the planned IIM will be developed with help from Japan.

The integrated masts are likely to be used onboard the next generation warships envisaged by the Indian Navy.

Cover Image: JS Mogami entering Yokosuka port (@jmsdf_yrh)