Mon, 04 Jan 2010 14:24:32 GMT

India's ‘satellite killer’ to take on China

India, it appears, is now on the verge of entering the rare domain of space wars. Indian scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are working on a weapon system to eliminate enemy satellites operating in low-earth orbits. The move to create this ‘satellite killer’ appears to have been prompted by a similar anti-satellite test conducted by China in January 2007. In the Chinese test, a missile was launched that completely decimated an old weather satellite Fengyun 1C that was orbiting 500 miles from the earth.


A file picture of a canister-launched surface-to-surface "Shourya" missile developed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). REUTERS

Although the Indian response, if we may call it that, has been slightly delayed, the DRDO confirms it is on track. DRDO Director General V K Saraswat announced as much to reporters on the sidelines of the 97th Indian Science Congress in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday. He said blocks of such technology were being developed, which could be used to build a weapon if the country needed it.

"We are working to ensure space security and protect our satellites. At the same time we are also working on how to deny the enemy access to its space assets," he said.

By destroying enemy satellites, which operate in low-earth and polar orbits, and are used for network-centric warfare, India will be able to cut off the "enemy" from access to its space assets. And in India's case, the enemy appears almost certainly to be China, since the neighbour has already made its intentions to target India very well known through various incendiary moves launched in the recent past.

Apart from the Chinese anti-satellite test, which is but one among others, and whose larger objective seems to be to contain US moves to have complete control over space-based assets, China has indicated in other ways that India could figure very highly in its space-based operations. For instance, while China has nuclear warhead 'de-targeting' and 'non-targeting' deals with Russia and the US in the 1990s, it has not signed a similar agreement with India, despite repeated requests from New Delhi to this end.

But this is nothing compared to China's offensive moves. India's Defence Ministry has revealed in its annual reports that Chinese warheads targeting many Indian cities are being kept ready in the northern regions of the Tibet and Kunming military districts.

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