Possible sale of one more Boeing C-17 aircraft to India approved – Pentagon। President Trump tweets: Look forward to welcoming to India’s PM Modi to White House on Monday. Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend! । Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for three-nation tour to Portugal, US and the Netherlands June 24 । India, Portugal sign MoUs in areas of Space, and Collaborative Research । Agreements signed during PM Modi’s first leg visit of the three-nation tour । US clears sale of 22 General Atomics Sea Guardian drones for Indian Navy । Deal likely to be announced during PM Modi’s visit to Washington June 26 । These unmanned, or Remotely Piloted, Aircraft will be used for ISR Missions in Indian Ocean । The G-to-G deal, under the US FMS program, should be around $2 Billion । India launches Cartosat-2 along with 30 other satellites June 23 । PSLV-C38, the 40th flight of PSLV, carrying 31 satellites took off from first launch pad of SDSC Sriharikota । President Mukherjee, PM Modi and the Defence Minister congratulated ISRO and its scientists for the successful launch । Lockheed Martin, Tata announce F16 India Partnership । Partnership aims to produce F16 Block 70 in India if selected by IAF । GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) orders 100 A320neo aircraft । Paris Air Show 2017 opens at Le Bourget, France June 19 । Chairman COSC and CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba on a visit to Isreal। India, Pakistan become full member of SCO। India’s entry into SCO was backed by Russia, and Pakistan’s membership by China। PM Modi calls on Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of SCO। He also thanked the Chinese President for supporting India’s entry into SCO। Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchange greetings with Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif in the Leader’s Lounge before the SCO concert in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan। It was the first time the two had met in nearly a year, during which period bilateral relations have deteriorated। PM Modi greeted his Pakistani counterpart and asked about PM Sharif’s health and about the health of his mother । Prime Minister Narendra Modi departs for 2-day visit to Astana, Kazakhstan to attend SCO Summit । India to be admitted as full member of SCO during the Summit । India signed Paris climate pact for its commitment towards protecting the environment, says EAM Sushma Swaraj । The EAM said this during MEA’s annual conference in New Delhi June 5 । It did not sign the pact of any greed or fear from any country: EAM । Ms Swaraj was rebutting US President Trump’s allegation saying India signed the deal to receive billions of foreign aid । India successfully launches communication satellite GSAT 19 June 5 । The heaviest ever rocket GSLV Mk III carrying GSAT 19 lifted off from SDSC (SHAR) Sriharikota । Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE cut diplomatic ties to Qatar । The 4 Gulf nations took the step following Qatar’s relations with Iran and support of Islamist groups। They also cut off its land, sea and air routes to the outside world । Libya, Yemen also joined the four Arab nations in snapping ties with Qatar । India, Russia sign pact for two nuclear power units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu । INS Kalvari, the Indian Navy’s first Scorpene class submarine, will be battle ready from Day One, French collaborator DCNS announced June 1 । Kalvari, meaning shark, will be commissioned in July । Kalvari is the first of the six modern submarines ordered by the Indian Navy । Indian Navy is looking at 200 ships and 400 aircraft, all with hitech systems । Vice Adm Karambir Singh also told a seminar on Future Indian Navy that poor quality systems are not acceptable । Indian shipyards are building 40 ships at present । PM Modi reaches St. Petersburg in the 3rd leg of his 4-nation visit । He is to participate in 18th India Russia Annual Summit and SPIEF 2017 । India, Spain sign 7 agreements including one each on Cyber Security and Civil Aviation । Naval Chief Adm Sunil Lanba calls for cutting edge technologies with a Made in India stamp । Addressing a seminar on Building India’s Future Navy, he said ToT from foreign vendors would be say now with Strategic Partnership model । Adm Lanba said selection process for shipboard fighter is moving at desired pace and they should be inducted in about 5 years । About 80 killed, several injured in a bomb blast near Indian embassy in Kabul । Indian embassy staff were safe: MEA । PM reached Madrid on the second leg of his tour for a day- long visit to Spain May 31 । India, Germany sign 11 MoUs including one on Cyber Security । MoUs signed during Prime Minister Modi’s 2-day Germany visit on May 29-30 । We are made for each-other, says PM Modi on India-Germany ties । The Prime Minister is on 4-nation tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France from May 29-June 3 । India’s distinguished police officer, Mr KPS Gill passed away at 82 । Hassan Rouhani re-elected Iranian President । Prime Minister Modi congratulated him on his re-election । India, Palestine sign 5 MoUs including one on visa exemption for diplomatic passport holder । Agreements were signed after Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with President Abbas May 16 । Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas is on 4-day State visit to India beginning May 14 । Abbas is visiting India on the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee । This is the fifth visit and the third State visit of President Abbas to India । Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Colombo May 11 on his two-day visit to Sri Lanka । He was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickramsinghe on his arrival at the Colombo airport । PM Modi is the chief guest at the International Vesak Day celebrations of Sri Lanka । India marks 19th National Technology Day । National Technology Day is marked to commemorate the anniversary of Pokhran nuclear tests of 1998 । On this day, Prime Minister Modi hails the then PM Vajpayee’s courage to conduct the nuclear tests । India launches GSAT-9 satetllite from Sriharikota । India to make Israeli rifles and small arms । Punj Lloyd and Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) collaborating in the venture । Trump to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia this month । This will be his first foreign visit as US President । India, Turkey signed three agreements including one between the Foreign Services Institute of India and the Diplomacy Academy of Turkey । Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls on President Mukherjee, Vice President Ansari, PM Modi and EAM Sushma Swaraj during his State visit to India । The Turkish President, visiting from April 30-May 1, backs India in fight against terrorism । Turkey conveyed its support for India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) । PM Modi expressed his gratitude on Turkey’s support । Indian Army celebrates 79th Armour Day । On 1 May 1938, Scinde Horse cavalry regiment was equipped with Vickers tanks and Chevrolet armoire cars । The Indian Army’s Armourerd Corps has played decisive role against Pakistani intruders in 1947, 1965 and 1971। India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements including one on Air Service Agreement । Agreements signed during Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades’s visit to India April 28 । Cyprus President called on President Mukherjee, Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi । The visiting President and PM Modi agreed on urgent need for all countries to decisively act against the states supporting factories of terrorism । PM Modi also thanked the Cyprus President for his support to India’s claim of Permanent Membership in UNSC । North Korea test fires a ballistic missile which landed in the Sea of Japan । India, Sri Lanka ink pacts on economic cooperation and road infrastructure development । The agreements signed during Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India । Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him । Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar accompanied Sushma Swaraj when the latter called on the visiting Sri Lankan PM । India-Russia defence engagement will continue to grow, says Defence Minister Arun Jaitley । He was speaking at the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow । India, Russia are celebrating 70 years of Diplomatic Relationship । China launches its first indigenous aircraft carrier । The new carrier will accommodate 36 aircraft and will be commissioned in 2020 after sea trials । It’s a 50000 ton platform with a ski jump deck modeled on Soviet carriers but has many design innovations । India, South Korea Sign Inter-Governmental MoU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding । The MoU signed by Secretary (Defence Production), India, Ashok Kumar Gupta and Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), South Korea, Chang Myoung-Jin । The Inter-Governmental MoU was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both countries । The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded its approval for signing the MoU । The CCS also gave a go ahead for nominating Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam for collaboration । Indian Navy successfully test-fires land attack version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile । Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari calls on President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister in New Delhi Apr 18 । Nepalese President is on a State visit to India April 17-21 । This is her first ever visit to India since taking over in 2015 । She was given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on her arrival at Rashtrapati Bhawan । Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Singh Sajjan, called on Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday । He was presented a Tri-Services Guard of Honour on his arrival at South Block । 12 killed in Saudi military helicopter in Yemen । Unconfined reports say the Blackhawk was accidentally shot down by a Saudi Patriot missile। US NSA Gen HR McMaster meets Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi । Gen McMaster also exchanged views on Indo-US relations with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar । Happy Easter । US drops its biggest 21,000 pound bomb on ISIS in Afghanistan April 13 । Designated GBU 43, the Mother of All Bombs is designed to hit deep caves and tunnels in hardy mountains । GBU 43 is the biggest non-nuclear bomb, carried by the US Air Force (USAF) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) । White House Press Secretyary Sean Spricer confirmed the night bombing but there was no immediate word from Taliban । Spicer said the ISIS terroists were targeted as they used the caves and tunnels to hit the US forces । GBU 43 is a concussion bomb carrying an explosive charge of 8,500 kg, equal to 11 tons of TNT । India, Australia sign 6 MoUs including on Combating Terrorism and Civil Aviation Security । Agreements signed during Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull’s Visit to India April 10 । He calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । This is the first ever visit of Turnbull after taking over as Australian PM in 2015 । The Australian PM along with his Indian counterpart took a Delhi metro ride to visit city-based Akshardham Temple । India, Bangladesh signed 22 agreements April 8 including key pacts on defence cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation । India announced an additional $4.5-billion concessional line of credit for infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, and another $500 million for Dhaka to procure defence equipment from New Delhi । A joint India-Bangladesh event saw both PMs honour the 1,661 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1971 war for Bangladesh’s independence । Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrives in New Delhi for 4-day State visit to India । Prime Minister Modi himself goes to the airport to greet the Bangladesh PM on her arrival । External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calls on Sheikh Hasina at Rashtrapati Bhawan । She is the special guest of President Pranab Mukherjee during her State visit to India । The Bangladesh PM has a full day of bilateral discussions with her Indian counterpart on Saturday (April 8) । 20 agreements are expected to be signed between India and Bangladesh । India, Malaysia sign 7 agreements । The agreements signed during Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s visit to India from March 30 to April 4 । Malaysian PM calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । India and Malaysia joint statement, issued after Modi, Razak meeting, calls for a deeper ties between the two nations ।
June 28, 2017
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India Launches South Asia Satellite

Set to launch a Milestone Heavy Payload GSLV in June
Gp Capt Ajay Lele Published: May 2017

New Delhi. On May 5, 2017, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) carrying a satellite called GSAT-9 or the South Asia satellite. Technologically, this was just a routine launch for ISRO but, for India, this launch carried geopolitical significance, a milestone towards strengthening good relations with neighbours.

GSAT9a About three years back, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested to ISRO scientists to develop a satellite for regional connectivity to benefit the entire South Asia region in its economic development. Then, in November 2014, while speaking at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) forum, he formally made this offer to their heads of State/ Governments. Except Pakistan, all the other seven countries happily agreed to take advantage of the Indian offer.

Significantly, India launched this 2,500 kg satellite using cryogenic technology, and more significantly, ISRO will launch a heavier payload of 4,000 kg (four tons) for the first time in June using cryogenic propulsion. So far, India has launched four satellites using this technology, mostly developed through indigenous effort, but with limited payloads. There are plans now on to 6,000 kg (six tons).

SAARC was established in 1985 with eight members namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka with their key focus on economic and social development issues. Ever since, SAARC has evolved as a major multilateral group in the region engaging itself in various areas of cooperation including science and technology.

SAARC Areas of Cooperation and India’s Space Effort

Various important areas of cooperation include environment, energy, education, and media. In the areas of science and technology cooperation, SAARC has established a Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC) in 1995. It undertakes collective research in meteorology in the SAARC region. This region has significant dependence on agricultural and obviously, engagement in such type of research projects has both social and economic implications.

India has been making investments in space technologies since the 1960s to meet its connectivity requirements for education, communications, radio and television etc. Now, by launching a satellite for South Asia, India is trying to ensure that the entire region gets benefited as the Government rightly believes that the region needs strong and common foundations for economic prosperity for all.

Amongst the SAARC member states, India is the only space faring nation (a country which can undertake rocket launches for putting satellites in the space) with several of its satellites operating in various orbits.

What is South Asia Satellite?

The recent South Asia Satellite, called GSAT 9, is a communication satellite which has successfully been placed in its designated geostationary orbit, and is expected to have a life of 12 years.

It would provide various communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries. The onboard Ku-band transponders have utility particularly for DTH (Direct To Home) television services. This satellite would also assist the South Asian states towards mapping of their natural resources, establishing IT connectivity in the fields of tele-education and tele-medicine. For the developing countries of South Asia, the majority of whose people do not have access to adequate education, medical and some other basic facilities, the connectivity through this satellite could prove to be a boon.

Notably, and appropriately, just after the South Asia Satellite was launched, Mr Modi engaged in video conference with various leaders of SAARC nations including Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda and Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena. Through this video-conference, these leaders thanked the Indian government for this initiative, which directly demonstrated the relevance of satellite technology itself.

ISRO Projects

Having understood the importance of various technologies for national growth, since independence, India has been making significant investments in various sectors and space has been high on the agenda since 1962. ISRO, set up in 1969, has significant plans.

Today, ISRO is working not only on projects of scientific and social significance but also those of strategic importance. For the Indian armed forces for instance, it has already launched a satellite called GSAT 7, which is an exclusive satellite for the Indian Navy. ISRO is scheduled to launch satellites for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army in the near future.

Notably again, ISRO satellites now can provide sub-meter resolution imagery.

India’s Cartosat series of satellites are expected to have more additions in the future and that would help the armed forces with almost real-time reconnaissance inputs in coming years. ISRO has also placed the required seven satellites for a navigational network, and it is expected to shortly provide appropriate information to both military and civilian services.

India’s Launch Limitations for Heavy Satellites

While India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is a highly successful and cost-effective launcher for small satellites up to 2,000 kg, India has been dependent upon foreign countries, namely France, for launching heavier satellites of 4,000 kg or more. ISRO and the French Arian Aerospace have been collaborating for long, as India’s own heavy satellite rocket programme, designated Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV), has been making slow progress.

The main problem has been the non-availability of cryogenic engine technology with liquid propulsion to lift heavy satellites, in the category of 4,000 kg and above. India is yet to fully master the art of cryogenic engines although there is substantial progress now. Earlier, due to the denial regimes imposed after India’s nuclear tests, India could not source this technology from other countries and decided to develop it indigenously.

For the South Asia Satellite launch, India has successfully used its indigenously developed cryogenic engine.

This is the fourth successive mission where ISRO has used the ‘local made’ cryogenic engine, and successfully. However, all the satellites launched during these missions have been less than 2,500 kg in mass.

New Milestones towards Moon and Mars

Now, within the next few weeks, ISRO is expected to launch its new rocket called GSLV MIII. This rocket is expected to lift approximately 4,000 kg (four tons) of payload. ISRO then expects to up to the 6,000 kg payload category, and that will be a game changer in India’s space capabilities.

This should reduce ISRO’s dependence on foreign agencies for launching of heavy satellites, helping it save money on the one hand and put it in the international commercial launch market on the other.

More important, this capability would help India meet its ambitions in the deep space arena. This is because India could carry multiple payloads in its upcoming missions to Moon and Mars.

India is planning its second mission to Moon during 2018 and to Mars during 2020. This second mission to the Moon would have a Lander and a Rover vehicle for various pre-defined tasks for the assessment of the Moon’s surface.

There are also talks of a mission to Venus. However, preliminary work on this project is to begin.

Overall, India has a space programme catering for societal, security and commercial activities. The launch of GSAT 9 (the South Asia satellite) clearly highlights that India is willing to use its capabilities in science and technology not only for its own economic development but also for that of its neighbouring countries towards peace and prosperity of the region.

The author is Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA)




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