Indian warships in Indian Ocean keeping an eye on hostile forces and pirates

NEW DELHI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the French space agency CNES have decided to set up a network of satellites for maritime surveillance to safeguard the Indian waters. CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall and ISRO chairman K Sivan signed an agreement in this regard in Bangalore on Wednesday. 

Talking to TOI, ISRO chief Sivan said, “The agreement is a first step to set up a surveillance system where ISRO and CNES will launch a series of satellites and set up ground stations that will be used for maritime domain awareness. The network of satellites will help detect, identify and track ships in the Indian Ocean in order to safeguard the Indian waters from pirates and hostile ships.”

The agreement is significant as it has come at a time when Chinese warships and submarines are showing increased activities in the Indian Ocean and face-off with the Pakistan naval force has increased in the Arabian Sea after the Pulwama attack and the subsequent IAF air attack on the JeM terror camp in Balakot last month.

ISRO chairman K Sivan with French space agency CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall after signing an agreement on maritime surveillance system in Bangalore on Wednesday 

The ISRO chief clarified that the agreement was just a first phase. He said, “We need to hold detailed discussion with CNES to work out the contours of the maritime surveillance system. We have to decide on the kind of satellites and payloads to be launched, cost analysis and division of jobs between ISRO and CNES.”

He said “both the space agencies have also decided to launch an earth observation satellite (for surveillance) called ‘Krishna’ under space cooperation”.

The Indo-French pact for maritime surveillance system is a follow-up of a broader agreement signed in March last year during French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to India.

ISRO and CNES also decided to work together on 15 areas, including the Gaganyaan project, for space cooperation. The meeting also offered an opportunity to confirm the progress of space agencies’ work in the field of human spaceflight to lay the groundwork for missions of future Indian astronauts.

A team of experts from ISRO will start receiving training this month at the Toulouse Space Centre, the CADMOS centre for the development of micro-gravity applications and space operations and the MEDES space clinic, a statement from CNES said.

After signing the agreement with ISRO, CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall said, “Our relationship with India is flourishing and maritime surveillance from space is a domain of strategic interest to our two nations. It is through the remarkable integration of CNES and ISRO teams that we have been able to deploy this programme in such a short time after it was launched during President Macron state visit to India just a year ago.”