Explained: How India spy satellite EMISAT keeps an eye on the borders
Amid simmering tensions between India and China at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, India’s spy satellite EMISAT has succeeded in gathering information about the positions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is to be noted that EMISAT which carries Kautilya is operated by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Kautilya, which is an ELINT (electronic intelligence) package, carried out a pass over the positions of Chinese troops in occupied Tibet near Arunachal Pradesh.
EMISAT is a satellite built around ISRO’s Mini Satellite-2 bus weighing about 436 kg. The satellite was successfully placed in its intended sun-synchronous polar orbit of 748 km height by PSLV-C45 on April 01, 2019. The satellite is intended for electromagnetic spectrum measurement.
EMISAT is country’s first electronic surveillance satellite. It is a very powerful electronic intelligence/surveillance satellite which has been developed in India jointly by ISRO and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
Space-based electronic intelligence or ELINT from the 436-kg spacecraft will add teeth to situational awareness of the Armed Forces as it will provide location and information of hostile radars placed at the borders; this will be another dimension to current land or aircraft-based ELINT, according to defence experts who did not wish to be named.
ISRO, which is said to have built the satellite body for the DRDO payload, merely said the spacecraft would measure the electromagnetic spectrum.
The Union Defence Ministry’s annual report of 2013-14 mentioned about Project Kautilya – for Space Borne ELINT System which involves the development of Electronic Intelligence payload for integration on an indigenous minisatellite.
The ELINT includes recordings and analysis of intercepted signals and helps create an RF signature of a radar which can, in turn, be used for locating and quickly identify the radar in subsequent encounters.