Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spy in sky to aid India’s terror war

M R Venkatesh and Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times

Sriharikota/New Delhi, April 21, 2009
First Published: 01:10 IST(21/4/2009)
Last Updated: 01:13 IST(21/4/2009)

Security forces can now look to the heavens for help in the war against terror.

India on Monday acquired Cold War-style sneak-peek capabilities with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launching a spy satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The all-weather, 24-hour Israeli surveillance satellite will help security agencies monitor the country’s international borders and give early warning about any kind of troop build-up, infiltration attempts and even ballistic missile attacks.

Shortly after the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) put the spy satellite in space, ISRO chief G. Madhavan Nair said snooping on the enemy “was not on the agenda”. That came as no surprise as spying from space has always been kept secret.

A defence ministry official, who did not want to be named, said, “It is one of the most advanced spy satellites that India has ever put into orbit. It will give an edge to the security forces engaged in a hide-and-seek game with terror groups in J&K and Naxalites.”

Dubbed ‘RISAT-2,’ the satellite is capable of seeing through clouds and carrying out day-and-night, all-weather imaging.

Weighing 300 kg, the spy satellite has been developed by the Israeli Aerospace Industries. India had to turn to Israel as ISRO’s spy satellite programme had been delayed.

But some experts raised doubts about its military application. Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd), director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, said, “It is not a satellite in the military class, though it does give some incremental capabilities that will have dual use.”

Nair said it would augment ISRO’s capability for mapping the earth, particularly during floods, cyclones and landslides.

The PSLV-C12 that lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, 90 km north of Chennai, on Monday also carried a 40-kg experimental communication micro-satellite ‘ANUSAT’ built by the Chennai-based Anna University.

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