India’s first-ever dedicated military satellite, Rukmini or GSAT-7, “seamlessly networked” around 60 warships and 75 aircraft during the massive month-long naval combat exercise in the Bay of Bengal that ended on Feb. 28, 2014…Apart from GSAT-7, the exercise this year also saw the “maiden participation” of nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, on a 10-year lease from Russia for $1 billion, and the newly-acquired P-8I [Boeing P-8 Poseidon] long range maritime patrol aircraft [bought from the United States].
While the over 8,000-tonne INS Chakra is not armed with long-range nuclear missiles because of international treaties like the Missile Technology Control Regime, it serves as “a potent hunter-killer” of enemy warships and submarines, apart from being capable of firing land-attack cruise missiles. INS Chakra adds some desperately-needed muscle to underwater combat arm at a time when the Navy is grappling with just 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, three of which are stuck in life-extension refits As for the P-8Is, the Navy has till now inducted three of the eight such sensor and radar-packed aircraft ordered in 2009 for $2.1billion from the US. Also armed with potent anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the P-8Is are working in conjunction with medium-range Dorniers [from Germany] and Israeli Searcher-II and Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to create a three-tier surveillance grid in the heavily-militarized IOR. India, in fact, is in the process of ordering another four P-8I aircraft.
Excerpt from Rajat Pandit, Navy validates massive exercise under country’s first military satellite’s gaze, The Times of India Mar. 1, 2013