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Mission Shakti: A-SAT Missile Tech Was Ready in 2012

Former DRDO chief had claimed in 2012 that India already had the building blocks to develop an A-SAT missile.

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India joined a special club of nations capable of destroying satellites in space on Wednesday, 27 March; the only other nations capable of this feat is the United States of America, Russia and China.

The target was an out-of-service Indian satellite flying at an altitude of 300km in space. In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the operation ‘Mission Shakti’ and stated that this is an important step towards securing India.

However, the genesis of the Ant-Satellite (A-SAT) missile can be traced to the successful launch of Agni-V Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), which was conducted in April 2012.

According to former Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief VK Saraswat, India already had the building blocks to develop an A-SAT missile, which fell in place with the development of the Agni-V missile.

However, Saraswat had said in 2012 that DRDO had no plans to conduct a physical test in space as it could create space debris, which can impact other satellites in orbit.

Incidentally, in a press conference held after the success of ‘Mission Shakti’, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Indian scientists had the capability to develop A-SAT missile technology way back in 2012, but the UPA government didn’t green-light the programme.

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A-SAT Built on Agni-V’s Strong Boost Capabilities

According to an article published by The Indian Express in 2012, former DRDO chief Saraswat stressed that an A-SAT system needs strong boost capabilities in the range of 800 km in space, which the Agni-V missiles have already demonstrated. Saraswat stated that India has proven guidance capability, rigorously tested in a series of anti-ballistic missile tests.

In an interview to India Today in 2012, Saraswat stated that it is far more difficult to intercept ballistic missiles than to intercept satellites as the latter follows as predictive orbit.

“India has a Long-Range Tracking Radar (LRTR) as a part of its Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme with a range of 600 km, which can be augmented to 1,400 km. The BMD programme can track and intercept a target of 0.1 square metre over 1,000 km away, meanwhile, a satellite is nearly a metre-wide, which makes it easier.”
VK Saraswat, Former DRDO Chief

The Agni-III propulsion too can be used to guide the weapons’ payload to intercept a satellite, according to Saraswat.

Saraswat said, “We have proved our A-SAT technology through simulation and we are not planning any tests to avoid space debris. However, if the nation needs such technology, then we are capable to deliver the same.”

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