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'Mission Shakti' cleared 2 yrs ago: DRDO chief

March 27, 2019 22:36 IST

IMAGE: Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Interceptor missile being launched by DRDO in an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile test 'Mission Shakti' engaging an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a 'Hit to Kill' mode from Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha, on Wednesday. Photograph: PTI Photo

India's successful anti-satellite missile test on Wednesday showed that the country now possesses the capability to strike satellites in outer space with centimetre-level accuracy and precision, Defence Research and Development Organisation chairman G Satheesh Reddy said on Wednesday.

Reddy, who oversaw the top secret operation, said the government accorded clearance to the project around two years ago with an aim to deter threats to the country's space assets.

 

In a major feat, a DRDO-developed missile destroyed a low-orbiting satellite in a critical test that catapulted India as a space power alongside the United States, China and Russia.

"It is a great achievement for India as the technology used for the test has been completely developed indigenously," Reddy told PTI in an interview.

"The test was a reflection of India's growing capability to develop critical technology and it will act as a good deterrence," he said adding India was the fourth country to go for an anti-satellite missile test after the United States, Russia and China.

The DRDO said a Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Interceptor Missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a 'Hit to Kill' mode.

"The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters. Tracking data from range sensors has confirmed that the mission met all its objectives," it said.

The test was conducted, under 'Mission Shakti' operation, from the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha.

Reddy said the test has demonstrated India's capability to defend its assets in outer space and is a reflection of the country's growing capability to develop critical technology.

"The shooting down of a satellite with a missile reflected that we have matured to develop technology which could achieve accuracy in terms of centimetres," said Reddy, adding clearance for the project was given over two years back.

"The project was implemented in the fastest way possible and it showed the DRDO's capability in doing such programmes," he said.

Reddy said the technology used has been completely developed indigenously and now India stands as one of the four nations to have it.

India is emerging as a major technologically advanced nation in space sector, he said.

The DRDO said the test has once again proven the capability of indigenous weapon systems.

India is yet to have a comprehensive national security doctrine.

However, a joint operational doctrine for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, released in April 2017 had proposed to set up a 'Defence Space Agency' to deal with issues relating to outer space.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs said the test was not directed against any country and that India has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space.

"The test is not directed against any country. India's space capabilities do not threaten any country and nor are they directed against anyone," the MEA said in a 10-point explainer on the anti-satellite missile test. 

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India had anti-satellite missile capability in 2007, but no political will: Ex-ISRO chairman

Former Indian Space Research Organisation chairman G Madhavan Nair said on Wednesday that India had the anti-satellite missile capability more than a decade ago but there was no political will at the time to demonstrate it.

He said when China shot down an ageing weather satellite by launching a missile in 2007, India had the technology to undertake a similar mission.

"...now (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji has taken the initiative and he had the political will and courage to say that we will do this. We have now demonstrated this to whole world," Nair told PTI.

He had headed the ISRO, Space Commission and was Secretary in the Department of Space from 2003 to 2009.

Nair joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in October 2018.

Asked if India could have demonstrated the anti-satellite missile capability in 2007 itself, Nair said 'certainly', but it could not be done due to absence of 'political decision' to go ahead with it at that time.

"Now, Modi ji has courageously taken the decision," he said.

The prime minister on Wednesday announced India had demonstrated the capability by shooting down a live satellite, describing it as a rare achievement that puts the country in an exclusive club of space superpowers.

India is only the fourth country to have such a specialised capability after the US, Russia and China.

Manash Pratim Bhuyan in New Delhi
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