Wednesday, February 17, 2010

India has got a spy in the sky

India is going to put up an eye in the sky to boost its military intelligence. The spycraft, called the Communication-Centric Intelligence Satellite (CCI-Sat), will be operational by 2014 and will keep a watch on the trouble spots in the neighbourhood, especially China and Pakistan.

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the CCI-Sat is India’s first original spy satellite. It will be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation within the next four years.

The CCI-Sat is capable of picking images and supporting communication (conversation between two satellite phones, for instance), besides surveillance. “The satellite will orbit Earth at an altitude of 500km and will cover hostile regions in India’s neighbourhood by passing on the surveillance data to the intelligence,” said G Bhoopathy, the director of the Defence Electronic Research Laboratory (DLRL), the lab that is working on the satellite.

“The focus is now space, we have to equip ourselves for electronic warfare from space too,” he said. The satellite will be equipped with 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 the ISRO while the payload will be built by the DLRL. “We are in discussions with the ISRO at the moment,” Bhoopathy said.

India, with its Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), is already among the nations that have spy satellites. These include the US, Russia and Japan.

TES, which was launched in 2001, helped the US army with high-resolution images during the 9/11 counter against the
Taliban.

Besides TES, ISRO’s Cartosat series of satellites and the Radar Imaging Satellite (Risat-2) can also be used for surveillance and espionage. But the CCI-Sat is 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.

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