Beware ! India kick starts military satellite programs

To meet military space requirements, India
plans to launch a 550-kilogram homemade military satellite within the next fortnight. The GSLV Mk III rocket, fired earlier this
month into space, has the capacity to carry the 4-ton class of satellites, prompting some
analysts here to say this is a prerequisite for an anti-satellite weapon. “The capability to launch heavy rockets
with heavier payloads is a prerequisite to put up anti-satellite weapons in the space,”
said a scientist with the Indian Space Research Organisation, which developed the rocket. India officially maintains that space is for
peaceful use and, as such, does not have an anti-satellite, or ASAT, program. However, sources within the state-run Defence
Research and Development Organization say such a program does exist. On the relevance of the heavy GSLV Mk III
rocket to an ASAT program, Ajey Lele, a senior fellow with the Institute for Defence Studies
and Analyses, doesn’t believe the GSLV Mk III is related to ASAT weaponry. “In fact, heavy satellites (more than 2
tons) are normally communication satellites, and they are in geostationary orbit. The concept of ASAT for satellites in that
orbit is not possible with present level of technological expertise with any country in
the world.” But Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a senior
fellow with the Observer Research Foundation, disagrees. “If you are aiming at satellites in low-Earth
orbits, PSLV [Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle] would be sufficient to launch ‘killer’
ASAT satellites, but if you are aiming to destroy satellites in geostationary orbits,
such as communication satellites, then of course GSLV Mk III would be useful.” Pillai, however, said India doesn’t have
any ASAT program. Military satellite The military satellite
to be launched this month is part of the Cartosat-2C series of satellite launched last year. “The Cartosat satellite has the ability
to provide defense forces [with] specific scene-spot imagery and images according to
the military’s area of interest (AOI) and help track developments along India’s land
borders China and Pakistan. It can help detect changes in man-made features
(or geographical features) along its land and maritime borders,” said Aditi Malhotra,
an independent strategic analyst. Added Rahul Bhonsle, a defense analyst and
retired Indian Army brigadier: “The Cartosat satellite can take panchromatic pictures of
up to 1-meter resolution covering an area of 9.5 kilometers. In fact, it is claimed that the resolution
has been increased up to .60 meters in Cartosat ‘C’ series. Thus the next in the series (‘2C’ series)
could provide even sharper images.” Images from the Cartosat will be used by all
three service branches for the identification of terrorist camps across the Line of Control
– the frontier between the areas of Kashmir, contested by India and Pakistan. The Indian military has, however, demanded
more dedicated satellites for exclusive military use as the armed forces move toward network-centric
warfare where several assets of the land, air and sea defense forces are networked through
space technology and advanced surveillance aircraft. So far, only the Indian Navy has a dedicated


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