India will finally have its own ‘official’ eye in the sky to boost military intelligence.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing the country’s first full-fledged ‘declared’ spy satellite, which will be operational by 2014 to keep an eye on neighbouring regions. The satellite is expected to significantly help in maintaining a close watch on terror camps close to Indian borders.
The satellite, called Communication-Centric Intelligence Satellite
(CCI-Sat), will be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) within the next four years.
The CCI-Sat will be capable of picking images and supporting communication (conversation between two satellite phones, for instance), besides surveillance. The project is currently in the initial stages of planning.
G Bhoopathy, director, Defence Electronic Research Laboratory, said the satellite would orbit Earth at an altitude of 500km, and would cover hostile regions in India’s neighbourhood by passing on the surveillance data to the intelligence. “The focus is now space; we have to equip ourselves for electronic warfare from space, too,” he said.
The satellite will be equipped with a synthetic aperture radar to take high resolution images of the target regions. Pegged at Rs100 crore, the satellite design and development will be made by Isro while the payload will be built by DLRL.
“We are in discussions with Isro at the moment,” Bhoopathy said.
Unofficially, India in October 2001 has already entered the league of nations having spy satellites - USA, Russia, Japan and Russia - with the launch of the Technology Experiment Satellite (TES). In fact, TES provided the first one-metre resolution images of Afghanistan’s interior regions on US’s request as intelligence inputs when US troops entered that country post-9/11.
Besides TES, Isro’s Cartosat series of satellites and the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT)-2 can also be used for surveillance and espionage. However, CCI-Sat will be the first 100% spy satellite of India. “This satellite will be much better than Risat-2,” Bhoopathy said.
Isro is also planning to launch the Gsat-7 satellite to boost communication system for the Indian Navy. This would be launched later this year.