India plans use of Israeli spy sats for coastal surveillance

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Ajit K Dubey

New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Aiming to enhance surveillancecapabilities along the coastline, India is planning to useIsraeli spy satellites to keep an eye over its maritimeboundary with Pakistan.

Under the plan, New Delhi is looking to use the spysatellite coverage over the maritime region off the coast ofGujarat near Kutch, the region which was used by theterrorists involved in the 26/11 terror attacks to enter Indiathrough the sea route, sources told PTI here.

A discussion in this regard between the two sides washeld recently during the visit of a high-level Indian Defencedelegation to Israel, they added.

Post 2008 Mumbai attacks, cooperation between Indiaand Israel in anti-terrorism efforts has been on the rise andNew Delhi is taking Tel Aviv''s help in securing its maritimeand land borders with Pakistan.

Once in place, the planned system would help thesea-guarding agencies such as the Navy and the Coast Guard tokeep an eye over a large area and keep a check on the vesselsmoving through the region and also verify their identity, theysaid.

The satellites would also be used to forewarn theauthorities in case of any suspicious movement of ships orsmaller vessels moving from Pakistan towards India.

With the satellites covering all the suspicious routeswhich the terrorists can possibly use in future, it will helpthe Navy and the Coast Guard to locate, check, and ifnecessary, destroy such vessels.

The Navy is going to commission its squadron of itsIsraeli Searcher and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)tomorrow at Porbandar in Gujarat for enhancing itscapabilities to tighten the vigil over the maritime trafficthere.

India has a over 7,500-km long coastline, which wasnot well-guarded till recently and after the Mumbai attacks,several steps are being taken by the Centre to plug the gapsin coastal security.

With an increased threat perception, the Governmenthas sanctioned procurement of equipment including fast attackcraft, offshore patrol vessels and reconnaissance aircraft forthe Navy and the Coast Guard.

The Navy is also raising a new force called the SagarPrahari Bal (SPB) to protect Naval bases and the coastlineareas.

The SPB will be deployed to carry out shallow wateroperations in both day and night for seaward anti-terroristpatrols for security of naval assets, besides interception athigh speeds and perform search and rescue operations.

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