Friday, March 20, 2009

India buys Israeli spy satellite

India has bought a spy satellite from Israel with day-and-night viewing capability to boost surveillance capabilities in the aftermath of the Mumbai militant attacks, a report said Friday.

The satellite, which can see through clouds and carry out day-and-night all-weather imaging, has been one of the long-standing demands of the Indian military, the NDTV news channel said.

The 300 kilogram (650 pound) RISAT 2 will be launched by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket in the next few weeks, the report said.

Indian scientists were in the process of integrating the satellite and the rocket at the Sriharikota space port in southern India, it said.

The acquisition was fast-tracked after the November 26-29 Mumbai siege in which 10 gunmen went on a shooting spree.

India says the attackers came by boat from the Pakistani port city of Karachi to Mumbai, based on its investigations and the confession of the lone gunman captured alive after the 60-hour siege, in which 165 people were killed.

India's existing satellites get blinded at night and in the monsoon season.

NDTV said the new acquisition would also provide New Delhi with the capability to track incoming hostile ballistic missiles.

India treated Israel like a pariah for decades, but has forged close military links with Tel Aviv in recent years with the Jewish state replacing France in 2007 as its second-largest arms supplier after Russia.

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