Space: India Launches All-Weather Spy Sat


April 24, 2009: India has bought a radar satellite from Israel, and launched it on April 20th, using an Indian rocket. The low orbit (550 kilometers) RISAT 2 weighs 650 pounds and can identify items three meters or larger in narrow (a ten kilometers wide swath) beam or 50 meters using wide (240 kilometers wide) beam. Radar satellites are particularly effective for tracking ships at sea. Unlike photo satellites, radar is equally accurate at night, or when there is cloud cover. India plans to use the RISAT 2 for monitoring its Pakistani border in Kashmir for Islamic terrorists, and for counter-terrorist operations in general.

Over the last decade, Israel has replaced France as the main supporter of Western military technology to India. Russia is still the main supplier, providing cheaper and less capable gear that India can afford, and is adequate for the local competition. But for high tech stuff, India is increasingly turning to Israel. After the Mumbai terrorist attacks last November, India asked Israel to speed up delivery of the RISAT 2, which Israel did. The Mumbai terrorists arrived via a hijacked ship, which RISAT 2 could have tracked.

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