After the test of Agni-V long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), India launched the Risat-1 microwave radar imaging satellite on April 26. India has the world’s highest number of remote sensing satellites and is a leader in the remote sensing data market. The country presently has 11 satellites in orbit.
Risat-1 will be useful in disaster prediction, agriculture forestry and defense purposes. However, China’s media has called it a spy satellite. In 2009, PoliTact had pointed out to an opinion that these satellites can be instrumental in monitoring the moves of unfriendly neighbors such as Pakistan and China. Experts state that such satellites can be used to track militant training camps and incoming hostile ballistic missiles.
India has also show interest in developing Anti Satellite (ASAT) weapons. According to Indian media, this focus developed after China’s 2007 use of an ASAT weapon to destroy an old satellite. The Director General of Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) VK Saraswat had stated in 2010,
“India is putting together building blocks of technology that could be used to neutralize enemy satellites. 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.”
Moreover, India performed its latest test for Anti Ballistic Missile System in February. The nation successfully tested the interceptor defense shield, which detects and destroys incoming ballistic missiles. Officials from DRDO had stated that the shield locked onto the two incoming nuclear missiles, and destroyed them over the Bay of Bengal.
DRDO jointly developed the system’s tracking and fire control radar with Israel and France. India is the fifth state to achieve this missile defense technology.
In order to be a player in the space arms race, a nation must develop cutting-edge technologies for its surveillance, through Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Anti Satellite (ASAT) capabilities. These advanced tools can counter the mechanisms that support the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Systems of adversaries and have the ability to intercept missiles in flight before they can hit their targets.
The recent Indian tests and comments indicate the country has become a competitor in the budding space arms race.