US defense firm Raytheon Co. has signed a contract with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to build a satellite-aided navigation system for India.
The project, called “Gagan,” will help build a global positioning system that will be used to aid civil navigation systems for the management of air traffic, railways and ships. For aviation, the system will increase air safety and efficiency by allowing precision aircraft landing at airports, said Bob Jackson, Raytheon’s program manager
The company has developed similar air traffic systems in the United States and Japan, he added. The Airports Authority of India is working with the ISRO to implement the project for India.
Raytheon will supply software and hardware support to the ground systems for the project, which will include eight reference stations across India. These stations will monitor space signals from the satellite and relay them to a main control center in Bangalore, Jackson said.
This contract is for the first phase of the project, which will be completed in the next two years, Jackson said.
If a second phase of the project is signed, Raytheon will work on data collection and analyses of air traffic management, added Jackson.
Raytheon has not disclosed the terms of the deal. According to media reports, the Indian government will invest about $24 million in the project.
Raytheon’s technology will also help examine the ionosphere over the Indian region, which is believed to play a part in space navigation, Jackson said. The system can be used for other forms of transportation as well.
“The Indian government is interested in positive train control which is a way for central rail authorities to exactly tell where the trains are,” he said. “If a slower freight train is moving on a track and a faster passenger train is coming from behind, then you can move the freight train on a side track and let the passenger train pass.”
It can also be used for maritime and recreational navigation, and emergency vehicles such as ambulances, he added.
“There are cell phones that are coming out now, that have a watch receiver. If you dial 911, it will know exactly where you are – on a north-bound lane or a south-bound lane and will dispatch an ambulance,” Jackson said.
The system can also be used in agriculture. Farmers will be able to know precisely where to apply pesticides, Jackson said.
Jackson said that the export license that Raytheon required for this contract was granted quickly by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Raytheon made $18.1 billion in revenues last year. Headquartered in Waltham, Mass., it employs about 78,000 people worldwide.