The recent launch of the spy satellite RISAT-2 by India’s PSLV-C12 emphasises the widening of strategic ties between India and Israel.
THE charade put on by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) around its twin-satellite launch on April 20, aboard the 15th mission of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C12), was completely uncalled for and, not surprisingly, unsustainable. It was clear from reports worldwide that the main payload of the mission, a 300-kilogram radar imaging satellite called RISAT-2, was a microwave-based high-resolution imaging reconnaissance (or spy) satellite, which India had procured from Israel. Radar-based imaging has an all-weather – including cloudy and foggy conditions – 24-hour viewing capability as well as an ability to distinguish camouflaged formations from surrounding terrain. But ISRO chose to pretend it was a satellite “realised by ISRO in association with Israel Aerospace Industries [IAI]…[that] will enhance ISRO’s capability for earth observation, especially during floods, cyclones, landslides and management of disasters in a more effective way” (emphasis added).
Why ISRO resorted to obfuscation using words such as “realised” cannot be fathomed. Insiders say that it was a decision at the highest level of the government. ISRO obviously could not say that the satellite was collaboratively built with the IAI because it clearly was not. For one, ISRO’s earth observation systems specialists are busy sorting out technical problems with its own radar imaging satellite, RISAT-1, which was originally slated to go on PSLV-C12, and it is extremely unlikely that the organisation has enough specialists to put together another earth observation team for a system with a totally different technology. It now seems that all the problems with RISAT-1 have been successfully solved, and the indigenous radar imaging satellite, which has a high-resolution reconnaissance capability, could take to the skies by the end of the year.