This article deals with ‘IRNSS / NAVIC‘. This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

How Global Positioning System works?

  • GPS is network of 24 Satellites that orbits the Earth transmitting signals back to Earth. GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received to triangulate position . With help of 3 satellites locked by receiver , 2D position(latitude & longitude) can be determined and with 4 satellites locked 3D position can be determined (latitude, longitude & altitude)
  • GPS receiver is only a receiver, without any transmitting capability. The satellites  contain highly precise atomic clocks which generates some code which it keeps transmitting to the earth.

India has joined elite club of few nations which have their own Global positioning System. These include

China Beidou (2019 update- China integrating this with OBOR Project => this has become part of Space Silk Road)
Japan Quasi Zenith
Europe Galileo

India’s NAVIC / IRNSS?

  • In 2006, Indian Government approved this project 
  • 2016 April: All 7 satellites were placed in Orbit & PM Modi named this system as NAVIC – Navigation with Indian Constellation.
  • Note- American GPS has 24  satellites

Satellites in IRNSS/ NAVIC

7 satellites are present in IRNSS and these include

3 satellites Geostationary Satellites.
4 satellites Geosynchronous orbits with inclination of 29 degrees

All 7 have been launched using PSLV (7th was launched on 28th April 2016)

Area of service

  • Primary Service Area : up to 1,500 km from India’s boundary
  • Extended Service Area : rectangle imagined by
    • 30  S and 50 N
    • 30  East and 130  East.


  • terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation
  • disaster management
  • vehicle tracking and fleet management
  • integration with mobile
  • precise timing
  • terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers
  • Geotagging of all the assets created under schemes like MNREGA, RKVY etc

Why we need our own NAVIC system ?

  • During Indo-Pakistan War in 1999 , rumour circulated that US was denying India access to most precise level of its GPS. Although this rumour was never substantiated but this scenario presented the advantage of having such system fully under Indian Control.
  • Americans sent wrong GPS signals to Iraqi planes during the Iraq war => same can happen with India as well

Use in Diplomacy

PM Modi as goodwill gesture said that our SAARC neighbours can use it who till now depend on foreign GPS services

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