India and France will commence the project of launching a constellation of maritime surveillance satellites by next year, an official of the French Space agency said.
“The satellites will be designed to cover areas ranging from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, keeping in mind the interests of both the countries,” the official said.
The views of maritime agencies of both the countries were taken and will soon chalk out the schedule of the exercise.
Earlier this year in March, India, and France unveiled a joint space vision. Both countries resolved to strengthen cooperation between their space agencies – Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) of India and CNES of France.
“ISRO and CNES would work together for design and development of joint products and techniques, including those involving Automatic Identification System, to monitor and protect assets in land and sea. In particular, both sides will pursue the study of a constellation of satellites for maritime surveillance,” the joint vision statement had said.
The announcement to start working on the constellation of maritime surveillance satellites, with a mtrackingajor focus on the Indian Ocean, is of great significance as the region is witnessing increased hegemony by the Asian giant China. Many important sea lanes of communications pass through the Indian Ocean which is critical to the strategic interests of India and France.
“The purpose of this constellation is monitoring sea traffic management,” the official said. “The Indian Ocean is critical in safeguarding interests of both India and France. On our part, we have several areas territories in the Indian, Pacific Ocean and in the tropical region. The satellites will be designed to serve the purpose,” the official added.
Both countries have been working on the aspect of climate monitoring on the joint missions Megha-Tropiques and Saral-Altika, and the ongoing studies of the Trishna satellite for land infra-red monitoring and the Oceansat3-Argos mission.