India is fast becoming a major power in satellite development and a significant player in the use of space for military as well as civilian purpose.
A number of Indian-built military satellites with surveillance, imaging and navigation capabilities are already planned for launch in the next few years to specially keep a watch on the neighborhood and help guide cruise missiles should the need arise. These satellites will have tremendous applications in the military sector.
India is becoming a space power inspite of the fact that it's programs were stymied when the U.S. imposed trade sanctions against India in 1992 for missile proliferation.
All of India's Defense satellites are locally built and launched from home soil due security and secrecy reasons.
The Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO will launch their first dedicated military surveillance satellite for the Indian Navy late in 2010 or beginning 2011. The multi-band satellite will weigh 2,330 kg and will be lifted into a geostationary orbit 1,000 nautical miles above the Indian Ocean. With this satellite, a full network of warships, submarines, aircraft and land-based operation centers will be ready through high-speed data links. The coverage area will be 600-1,000 nm. Maritime threats will then be detected and shared in real time to ensure swift action. The entire project for this single dedicated military satellite for the Indian Navy will cost $212 million.
A new aerospace command is being built that will provide a space-based military capability for monitoring a vast region all the way from the Strait of Hormuz in the west to the Strait of Malacca in the east and from China in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south.
India has been launching dual-use-military and civil satellites for quite some time now. However, one satellite with military use, but not acknowledged by ISRO, was the Earth Observation Technology Experiment Satellite, with 1-meter (3.2-ft.) resolution, weighing 1,108 kg and put into orbit from Sriharikota Range in 2001 by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. Cameras in the remote sensing satellite mapped terrain across the northern border of India for possible deployment of troops and weapons.
In 2008, India launched the 13th Indian Remote Sensing Satellite called Cartosat-2A, also known to be a military satellite. Cartosat-2A is a rugged satellite that provides scene-specific spot imagery for cartography for the armed forces. It carries a panchromatic camera with spatial resolution better than 1 meter and covers a swath of 9.6 km. Imagery from this satellite is used for applications such as mapping, urban and rural infrastructure development and land management.
The latest incarnation, Cartosat-2B, launched in July 2010 using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, has spatial resolution of 2 meters and covers a swath of 30 km. per camera.
ISRO also launched Oceansat-2 in September 2010 for weather tracking and forecasting, identification of fishing zones and coastal zone studies. It's data is also accessible by the navy for bathymetric studies and antisubmarine warfare. Oceansat-3 which is thought to be solely for defence purpose and partly for civilian use is slated for launch in 2012.
Immediately following the Mumbai attacks of December 2008, ISRO launched Risat-2, which it hurriedly bought off-the-shelf from Israel Aerospace Industries for use by the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), as part of the fast-track procurement of critical hardware for strategic deterrence. NTRO is India's version of the U.S. National Space Agency. It controls the satellite with the military, especially the navy. Risat-2 is India's first satellite with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which provides night and all-weather surveillance. ISRO hailed the satellite's capability for disaster management.
The indigenous $25-million Communication-Centric Intelligence Satellite (CCI-Sat) which is being developed by the Defense Electronics and Research Laboratory under the Defense Research and Development Organization, will be launched and fully operational by 2014. It will act as a test bed for anti-satellite weapon technology. CCI-Sat, which also has SAR, has imaging and communication functions besides surveillance. The satellite will orbit Earth at 500 km. and cover hostile regions in the area by passing on surveillance data to intelligence agencies
ISRO has exclusively planned an Indian Regional Navigational Satellite GPS System (IRNSS) of seven satellites. These constellations along with ground support will be operational by 2014. Three satellites will be in geostationary orbit over the Indian Ocean. Missile targeting could be an important military application for the constellation.