The expansion of Israel’s support to India in the space field is on the agenda.
India is interested in obtaining additional assistance in the field of advanced space systems for intelligence purposes. The discussions on this issue will continue this week during meetings that will take place at the Singapore Air Show.
In 2009, India launched the RISAT-2 spy satellite into space – a satellite that was constructed with the assistance of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The decision to launch the satellite was received in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
At the time, India’s media reported that the Indian government had procured the satellite in a shortened process due to pressure from its army following the attacks.
India is in possession of spy satellites, but they are only effective in daytime conditions and are unable to provide any military intelligence during the night or in stormy conditions.
The satellite was launched into space in April 2009. RISAT-2 weighs approximately 340 kg, and was launched via an Indian Polar launcher – the same one used for the Israeli TecSAR satellite the previous year. According to all indications, the advanced Indian satellite is the twin of the TecSAR satellite, and is equipped with an advanced radar system capable of locating ground targets in the dark, in bad weather, and during sandstorms.
After the Israeli TecSAR satellite was launched from India, Indian sources stated that the Indian defense establishment received ongoing information from it regarding areas of interest. Several publications even claimed that India participated in the funding of the advanced satellite. After the launch of the RISAT-2, Indian publications claimed that it would also serve as a backup for the advanced Israeli TecSAR satellite.
At the time, India claimed that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks arrived from Pakistan by boat, and that an effective spy satellite would have enabled them to locate the boat in time to thwart the attack.
The procurement of the advanced spy satellite from Israel brought the relations between both countries to new heights. It was the first time that reports were published regarding Israel's export of spy satellites. Various reports have appeared in the past regarding similar deals made with several countries, but no details were ever made available.
Advanced spy satellite manufacturers such as the US and Russia do not sell such satellites to foreign countries. It seems that the deal was carried out after an Indian request was made to Israel at the most senior level. IAI has produced all the satellites in the Ofek and Eros series that Israel uses.
As aforementioned, India is now showing an interest in additional cooperation with IAI in the space field.