BEL says new coastal surveillance system is ready - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 26 November 2010

BEL says new coastal surveillance system is ready

Fast Interceptor Boats (FIBs), built by Goa Shipyard Ltd, at the new Kochi coastal police station, in Fort, Kochi. The Home Ministry is paying for 204 FIBs for 73 new stations

By Ajai Shukla
Bangalore, Business Standard, 27th Nov 10

At least one of the lessons of the Mumbai terror strike of 26/11 --- when ten Laskhar-e-Toiba terrorists set out from Karachi, hijacked an Indian fishing boat, the MV Kuber, and sailed into the heart of Mumbai undetected --- have been fully absorbed by the government. The approaches to India’s coastline will soon be amongst the most carefully watched waters in the world.

In the aftermath of 26/11, the apex Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) issued detailed orders, and allocated funds, to implement a Coastal Surveillance Scheme, to ensure a 24x7x365 watch over India’s 7600-kilometre coastline so that no hostile elements could sneak in by sea again.

The Coastal Surveillance Scheme is ready for implementation. It relies on a chain of electro-optic sensors --- i.e. radars, and day and night cameras --- that are being installed on lighthouses and towers that look out at the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The key challenge in setting up the scheme has been in transmitting the data picked up from multiple sensors all along the coast to surveillance centres located in the interior, and then integrating that data into a coherent operational picture.

That problem has now been solved, says defence PSU, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), which is putting the finishing touches on the software for the Coastal Surveillance Scheme. On a visit to BEL Bangalore, Business Standard was demonstrated how the Rs 700 crore system would function within a Remote Operating Station, the name for the Coast Guard surveillance centre that would be receiving data from a chain of lighthouses and towers along the coast. Advanced “data fusion” techniques are then employed to integrate all that information.

“Data fusion has been a key design challenge”, affirms BEL’s R&D chief, I V Sarma. “If two adjoining radars pick up a single boat, which often happens, the software must recognised that and combine those two images into that of a single boat. Fortunately, BEL had built up enormous experience in data fusion while developing the navy’s Combat Management Systems, which also integrates the inputs from multiple radars on board a warship; and also while building an Integrated Air Command and Control System for the IAF.”

Besides integrating multiple inputs into a common operational picture, the software allows the Remote Operating Station to remotely manipulate its coastal radars and cameras --- through a Camera Management System --- to observe suspicious objects in greater detail. In a quick demonstration staged for Business Standard, an oil tanker, which had been detected by a thermal-imaging night vision camera at a distance of 36 kilometers from the coast, was declared a suspicious vessel. A click by the operator on the oil tanker’s screen image automatically fed its coordinates to the camera, which zoomed in quickly, giving the operator a detailed look.

“The cameras and radars are Israeli”, admit the BEL operators, “but we are working on developing them indigenously.”

The software also performs other tasks that include monitoring the health of the remote systems; and an alarm system that alerts the operators when a vessel enters a designated “sensitive zone”;

In Phase 1, the coast guard is setting up 46 electro-optic sensor stations in high-threat areas, and 12 Remote Operating Stations. This will be expanded in Phase 2 to cover the entire coastline within three years. The most recent installations are radar stations in Dwarka and Navodra, which feed into a Remote Operating Station at Porbandar, about 100 km away. Distance is irrelevant, with data being transmitted through two dedicated lines of 2 MBPS each.

The 12 Remote Operating Stations feed into one of four Regional Operating Centres at Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai and Visakhapatanam. Finally, all this information is fed in real time to the apex Control Centre at New Delhi, where it is integrated into a single national-level picture.

For this, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal agency but coordinates with multiple agencies, including the coastal state governments; the fisheries department; the department of lighthouses and lightships; and port authorities, amongst others.


  1. Col Shukla,
    Interesting article. However, I dont understand one aspect of this. Surveillance is one part of the job, the other part is classification and threat identification. Having access to so much data is good - but it is not "actionable information". The algorithms for classification and threat identification would be quite interesting to develop (would possibly require some Neural Networks.. not sure). The other part of this system is that it does not integrate Auto identification System, which will provide critical identification of each passing vessel. my 2 cents..

  2. BEL has NEVER developed any combat management system (CMS) for anyone. What it has done is undertake industrial production of CMS suites originally co-developed by the Indian Navy's Weapons and Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) and TATA Power. The latest EMDINA CMS originally co-designed by the Indian Navy's WESEE and TATA Power as part of project MEDINA for the three Project 17 FFGs and three Project 15A DDGs. The earlier EMCCA Computer Aided Action Information System (CAAIS) was also co-developed by WESEE and TATA Power, under Project MECCA.
    For more details, go to:

  3. Ajai sir,
    Don't you think that India should now develop a LONGER RANGE [say 1000 or 2000 km] hypersonic brahmos 2 with Russia since the U.S is relaxing restrictions? Couldn't you write an article on it ?

  4. Only the boats look nice, however the supposed "pier" infrastructure where the boats are berthed looks hazardous and unprepared. Oh, maybe keeping it undeveloped itself is a security precaution :)? (to prevent terrorists from easily sabotaging them). Thats the shame called Indian administration. It has already been more than 60 years since the British built a grand metropolis in Bombay, whose old downtown is still unrivaled by independent India's successive administration. This shows why India is a long way from becoming a super-power. If we can't even give our civilians a decent infrastructure, guess what our Armed forces can expect. I am sure the CG or Coastal Police who are supposed to operate these boats must be poorly trained to man them. If we simulate a mock terrorist attack from sea, I can confidently say we still cannot mobilize rapidly.

  5. What about underwater entrants. if drug runners could build sub's, why wouldn't ISI Backed LET do it ?

    it is matter of time. we need to approach it holistically.

  6. We’re a group of volunteers and starting a brand new initiative in a community. Your weblog supplied us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvellous work!

  7. Prasun:

    Your post is factually incorrect. According to sources in the IN, BEL and Tata Power, the bulk of the software for CMS was done by BEL.

    The role of WESEE was confined to developing the tactical modules (7% of total software development work). WESEE's contribution was mandatory because the Indian Navy has authorised, for reasons of security, only that establishment to handle tactical modules.

    What you have posted, apparently as a reference, are only some block diagrams and commercial handouts that say nothing about who did what in developing the CMS.

  8. Thanks for the helpful post! I would not have gotten this otherwise!

  9. BEL has a long, long history of putting together and manufacturing equipment developed by DRDO, the private sector or sourced from abroad, then taking credit for the same and bragging about its (monopolized) profits.

    Being technically a non-profit institution, why the hell is it being given a monopoly over defence production?

    I feel that projects like these, at least, should be farmed off to the fledgling private sector to let them develop. BEL has enough business to keep its production lines busy.

  10. You completed some good points there. I did a search on the theme and found the majority of persons will have the same opinion with your blog.

  11. Nice article. I have subscribed to your RSS feed.

  12. " Anonymous said...
    The algorithms for classification and threat identification would be quite interesting to develop (would possibly require some Neural Networks.. not sure). "

    Yes. Neural Networks can do that.
    They learn and adapt based on rules and classify data.

    G.Krishna Murthy

  13. That was very rational. When deciding to put up security cameras, determine first the areas you’d like monitored. This gadget could be quite expensive if you’d put up one unit in every corner of the house. The key to such problem is proper angling. Home safety is paramount, that’s why it is really good news that home security cams are more affordable now. Having a secure home wouldn’t then be at all impossible for some people.

    Alarm Monitoring


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