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India to build intelligent satellite for surveillance

India is set to develop a dedicated network-centric communication intelligence satellite for detecting conversations and espionage activities in the region, a top defence scientist said on Tuesday.

“We are in the process of designing and developing a spacecraft fitted with an intelligent sensor that will pick up conversations and communications across the borders,” Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL) director G. Bhoopathy told reporters here.

The Rs.100 crore satellite will be developed in partnership with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and launched in the lower earth orbit — about 500 km above the earth — on board the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh, about 80 km north-east of Chennai.

“The satellite fitted with the electronic sensor will be more powerful than the remote sensing satellites (IRSA) of ISRO. The spacecraft should be ready for launch by 2014,” Mr. Bhoopathy said on the margins of a preview on the first international conference on electronic warfare (EWCI 2010).

The Hyderabad-based DLRL, which functions under the aegis of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), is also developing a border network-centric electronic warfare sensor for surveillance on the Indian borders in the mountain range and desert areas.

“The electronic warfare (EW) sensor will be located on the mountain range facing Pakistan, China, Nepal and the northeast to detect troop or vehicular movement across the borders. Some of the sensors can also be deployed in the plains or desert for monitoring the ground situation in border areas,” Mr. Bhoopathy said.

Code-named “Divya Drushti” (foresight), the radars will be installed on the mountain tops from December this year onwards.

The Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) in Bangalore and DLRL are engaged in the design and development of EW systems indigenously and state-run defence behemoth Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) will manufacture the radars and the support systems in collaboration with the private sector.

DARE and BEL have rolled out Tarang radar warning receiver systems and its variants for fighter jets and transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

BEL has orders from the Indian Armed forces to supply EW system to the value of Rs. 710 crore in this fiscal and Rs. 900 crore in fiscal 2010-11.

Over the years, BEL supplied EW systems to the three armed services to the value of Rs.3,500 crore till fiscal 2008-09.

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