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India developing anti-satellite weapons

NEW DELHI, April 23 (UPI) -- India intends to develop anti-satellite weapons following its successful Agni-V ICBM test.

Indian Defense Research and Development Organization Director General and scientific adviser to the Defense Minister V. K. Saraswat said the launch of Agni-V last week opens a "new era" for India

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"Apart from adding a new dimension to our strategic defense, it has ushered in fantastic opportunities in building ASAT weapons and launching mini/micro satellites on demand," he said.

ASAT weapons require reaching about 500 miles above the Earth. Saraswat said Agni-V delivers the boosting capability and the kill vehicle, "with advanced seekers, will be able to home into the target satellite."

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Saraswat noted that Agni-V's range of more than 3,100 miles was sufficient to take care of India's current threat perceptions.

"We have no problem in augmenting the range if in the future, threat perceptions change," he said. "We are not in a missile race with anyone. We are building missiles to mitigate our threats."

Saraswat added that the government had yet to give formal approval to the ASAT program.

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"India does not believe in weaponization of space," he said. "We are only talking about having the capability. There are no plans for offensive space capabilities."

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Underpinning India's interest in an ASAT program was China's 2007 use of an ASAT weapon to destroy an old satellite.

In late 1962 India and China fought a brief war over contested Himalayan territory, during which India lost 1,383 killed, 1,047 wounded, 1,696 missing and 3,968 captured. Chinese losses during the conflict were 722 killed and 1,697 wounded.

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In January 2010, Saraswat said: "India is putting together building blocks of technology that could be used to neutralize enemy satellites. We are working to ensure space security and protect our satellites. At the same time we are also working on how to deny the enemy access to its space assets."

The ABM elements in India's space program were operational tested last year. India performed a test in March 2010, the sixth of the series, of the interceptor missile portion of its ballistic missile defense system. The test was reported to be a success and a validation of the technology to be integrated into India's missile defense capabilities.

A modified Prithvi target missile, modified to mimic the trajectory of a ballistic missile with a 324-mile range, was launched from Chandipur, Orissa Integrated Test Range Launch Complex III.

Indian military radar tracked the launch, determined its trajectory and relayed the data in real time to Mission Control Center, which launched the interceptor. The interceptor's directional warhead was maneuvered into close proximity to the modified Prithvi before detonating, the government said.

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