Home / Science / News /  India completes a quartet of spy satellites to ensure all-weather surveillance along its borders

NEW DELHI : With the launch of RISAT (Radar Imaging Satellite) – 2BR1 on Wednesday, India has completed the stationing of a quartet of satellites in space to ensure its borders are protected, say analysts.

The RISAT launched on Wednesday is part of a series of radar imaging reconnaissance satellites built by ISRO, according to analysts. It aims to provide all-weather surveillance using synthetic aperture radars (SARs), that capture better quality imagery and photographs than the optical sensor radars incorporated into an earlier generation of satellites.

The RISAT is used for border surveillance, to deter terrorist infiltration and for anti-terrorist operations, said Ajay Lele, a space expert from the New Delhi-based government funded Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses think tank.

India launched its first RISAT, with SAR technology from Israel in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in 2009. The perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks –10 terrorists from the Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Toiba group – set sail from Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi and landed in Mumbai taking advantage of the loopholes in India’s coastal security and surveillance systems. The 10 killed 166 people as they targeted multiple locations in Mumbai including two luxury hotels, a popular café, a Jewish halfway house and a train station. The Mumbai siege lasted almost 60 hours before Indian army commandos and police took out nine of the 10 attackers on 29 November, 2008.

According to a person familiar with the developments, “eyes in the sky are an indispensible part of any security system" of countries. India speeded up the launch of the SAR after the 2008 Mumbai attack with Israeli help to plug the gaps in its security. A second RISAT – with an indigenously built SAR was launched in 2012. A third in the series, capable of taking images during any time of the day and under all weather conditions, was launched earlier this year in May.

Wednesday’s launch puts a fourth RISAT in space that aims to give the authorities a clearer picture of any movements across India’s borders. “All these satellites are not constantly monitoring every inch of India’s borders all times of day" which is why India needs more of them in space for better surveillance capabilities, Lele said. Two more RISAT satellites are due to be launched in the coming months, he added.

Now with four of the satellites in place and two more on the anvil, India is moving to close any gaps in its surveillance system that countries or groups inimical to its interests can take advantage of, the person cited above said.

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