So that is the payoff. A few months ago India launched a spy satellite for Israel, using its PSLV rocket. So why take the risk of doing a favor for Israel, when the political situation in South Asia is so inflammatory?
Now we know. Indian satellites lack the Synthetic Aperture Radar that can see through clouds and at night. The Mumbai terrorist attack highlights the importance of being able to track small vessels in the Indian ocean and to watch terrorist training camps within Pakistan. The two countries can fill the gaps in each other’s capabilities. And then there is the whole enemy of my enemy thing happening also.
It is not something either side wants to talk about much:
That was quite evident at last week’s Defense Expo, a large defense industry trade show in New Delhi. Israeli companies were eager to show off their high-tech product lines – everything from missiles to advanced night-vision equipment to unmanned aerial drones – but reticent to talk about what they currently are supplying to the Indian armed forces.
“We can’t talk about that,” said Dan Zeevi, the marketing information officer for Israeli Military Industries Ltd., a defense contractor.
There is support for India-Israeli co-operation from the ruling Government as well as the right wing opposition. But the left wing parties and much of the intelligentsia of India is opposed. In recent years, the realists have been running India. And with remarkable economic success. The same approach should be applied to security. Ideological purity does not shield you from mad men bearing assault rifles.
India has acquired an Israeli satellite that has day and night viewing capability. A bird can keep a watch over India’s hostile neighbours even when the landmass is covered by a thick cloud cover, this capability puts the satellite in the class of what are often called `spy satellites’.
In a few weeks this satellite called a Radar Satellite (RISAT-2) will be launched using the Indian rocket the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The 300 kilogram satellite is the first of its kind for India and is in the process of being integrated with the Indian rocket at India’s space port Sriharikota.
ISRO has been developing its very own RadarSat at a cost of almost Rs 400 crores but since that was taking time India went in for a hurried purchase from Israel. India’s own RadarSat will launched later in 2009 which will give India a constellation of spy satellites.
Indo-Israeli relations in space are at a new high ever since in January 2008 India launched Israel’s very own spy satellite called TecSAR it had a resolution of almost 10 centimetres, meaning it could read car number plates from the sky.
This is roughly where American spy satellite technology was in middle of the cold war. Not bad. Let us hope it is good enough.