India Developing Means To Destroy Satellites

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PARIS — India has begun development of lasers and an exoatmospheric kill vehicle that could be combined to produce a weapon to destroy enemy satellites in orbit, the director-general of India’s defense research organization said Jan. 3.

“The kill vehicle, which is needed for intercepting the satellite, needs to be developed, and that work is going on as part of the ballistic missile defense program,” said V.K. Saraswat, director-general of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is part of India’s Ministry of Defence.

In a televised press briefing during the 97th Indian Science Congress in Thiruvananthapuram, Saraswat said the program includes the development of lasers “which will be able to give you a concrete picture of the satellite, and use that picture to guide your kill vehicle towards that. That work has yet to be done.”

The DRDO expects to have all the building blocks ready between 2012 and 2014, he said. An interceptor missile with a range of 120 to 140 kilometers will be test fired in September 2010, he said.

Saraswat said that while work on individual components of the system is going on, the anti-satellite (A-Sat) weapon will be built and tested only “if and when the country needs it.” Saraswat, who is also the scientific adviser to the defense minister, said space security is going to be a major issue in the future and that India should not be left behind.