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By Bulbul Singh

24 Oct 07. The Indian Army has finalized plans for Space, and has set up a Space Wing at its headquarters in New Delhi. The Space plan was discussed during last week’s Commander’s Conference in New Delhi presided over by the Indian Prime Minister, Defence Minister, National Security Adviser and the Chiefs of the Indian Navy, Air and the Army.

The Indian Air Force already has a Space wing and with the setting up of the Space plan for the Indian Army, an Aerospace Command would be the logical course of direction wherein dedicated military satellites will be procured and networked with assets on ground.

“The army realizes the importance of space as a vital arena for future exploitation and has already established a space cell to co-ordinate space-based applications in a joint services operational environment,” said an official of the Indian Army.

The acquisition of network centric warfare systems would also get a boost with the adoption of the Indian Army’s Space plan, said sources in the Indian defence ministry.

Sources said besides the homegrown military satellite, the Indian Army would procure dedicated satellites from overseas sources, including Israel and will set up its satellite-based surveillance reconnaissance systems this year itself.

The acquisition of satellites will bolster India’s intelligence gathering abilities in the Kashmir valley, and will provide real time targeting information thereby increasing the accuracy of Indian Army’s firepower including ballistic missiles, which the Army has now commissioned.
So far Indian defence forces have been using the CARTOSAT-I satellite launched in 2005, and the CARTOSAT-2 satellite-launched in January 2007, the indigenous Test Evaluation Satellites, capable of delivering images measuring about 1 meter across.

Besides the Indian Army, the Indian Navy needs more then one dedicated military satellite to carry out the Indian Navy’s mission of having a blue water navy extending its footprint to the Indian ocean rim countries.
Negotiations have been on with Israel for several years for the leasing of Ofeq 5 satellite but the satellite has not been offered to India so far. The Indian Army require a satellite for a resolution of up to half a meter for effective intelligence gathering which has a capability for accurate mapping and three-dimensional modelling capabilities of the high mountainous terrain of the Kashmir valley, which the Ofeq-5 satellite of Israel has. Meantime New Delhi is on the look for a dedicated satellite from Russia and even from western sources so that the Indian defence forces network centric warfare plan and the Aerospace Command plan is executed speedily.

Indian domestic satellite building effort is largely indigenous with help from Israeli ImageSat international, an Israeli led firm that offers high resolution imagery on the international market. IAI of Israel is also building some technologies for ImageSat.

India also is building a microwave remote sensing satellite called Risat, capable of capturing images through dust and darkness. India is also building up a satellite-based Military Surveillance and Reconnaissance System that will become operational by 2008. Besides, India and Russia early 2006 inked an agreement under which India will participate in Russia’s Glonass satellite navigation system for military applications.

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