Electronic Weapons: Fishing For Lost Troops


July 27, 2008: India has found an economical and effective device for greatly increasing safety at sea, controlling smuggling and illegal fishing, while providing a test bed for a military locator system. It's all based on a  cheap GPS system (about $25 per unit) that communicates with all identical devices within range. This forms a network that enables control stations ashore, or afloat, to locate every ship carrying the device over a wide area. India will be equipping over 6,300 fishing boats (including about 1,700 sail driven ones) operating off the southern coast.

Each GPS device can broadcast 15-20 kilometers and will automatically send and receive location information to any other device within range. The GPS gives the boat crew constant location information, making accidents (collisions, running aground) less frequent. It also makes it easier for the fishermen to reach their destinations quickly and accurately (and to accurately mark the location of good fishing area.) The GPS device can also send a distress signal, which will get help to the disabled boat a lot more quickly than in the past (if only because of the accurate location data.)

The GPS system could enable the Indians to equip their troops with an inexpensive troops locating device. The U.S. pioneered this in 2003, with the satellite based (and much more expensive) Blue Force Tracker. India can't afford that sort of thing. But the fishing boat tracker is another matter.



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