India and France will commence work on launching a constellation of maritime surveillance satellites next year, an official from the French space agency said.
The study, which has taken on board views of all stakeholders including the maritime security agency of the two countries, will chalk out the schedule of the exercise.
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 study will access the number of satellites required in the constellation.
In March this year, India and France unveiled a joint vision for space, resolving to strengthen cooperation between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and CENS, the space agency 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 said.
The purpose of this constellation is monitoring sea traffic management, the official said.
The statement also envisaged to launch a constellation of maritime surveillance satellites with a prime focus on the Indian Ocean, a region that is witnessing an increased presence of China.
Several crucial Sea Lanes of Communications pass through the Indian Ocean, a region critical to the strategic interests of India and France.
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.
India and France share robust space cooperation and have been working closely since the last six decades.
Both sides 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 Infrared monitoring and the Oceansat3-Argos mission.