Lockheed Martin offers Lightweight Satellite Launchers to India

By admin • October 25th, 2010

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India Defence Online, New Delhi — Indo-US cooperation is growing substantially not only in defence but in space programmes as well. Due to India’s incredible standing in space technology, the US is planning to use India’s potential by outsourcing lightweight satellites from India.

Lockheed Martin, leading US defence and Aerospace Corporation, has insinuated that it would outsource the launching of satellites due to the shortage of cheap launching facilities for satellites. This is where India figures as a reliable country and the state-owned Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its export arm, Antrix have been approached for an arrangement. The ISRO and Antrix have been engaged in discussions since this August when senior officials from Lockheed Martin visited India.

In addition, Lockheed Martin is keen to collaborate with ISRO on India’s manned space flights. Since Lockheed Martin has great expertise in space programmes and provides inputs to most of the US space missions, India can definitely harness the valuable expertise on its own space missions. Lockheed also suggested that Indian firms can be a part of the supply chain if space cooperation increases between India and the US.

During the visit of US President Barack Obama to India next month, the removal of India from the ‘Entities List’ will be brought up to make bilateral ties more substantive. India will be asking the US to remove ISRO as well as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the ‘Entities List’ in order to accelerate defence and space cooperation. Due to India being a part of the ‘Entities List’, US companies cannot share hi-tech dual technology as defined by the Department of Commerce.

Historically, India has been a major trading partner of the US in space technologies. During the 1980s, the US helped India to launch its own satellite telecommunications system INSAT with satellites purchased from Ford Aerospace. In 1982 and 1990, the US launched Indian satellites atop American rockets, and in 1983, a US space shuttle deployed an Indian satellite. However, Indo-US relations in the areas of space cooperation decreased in the 1990s and after the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests, the US imposed trade, economic and military sanctions which, in turn, hampered progress at ISRO. The Americans also forced Russia to stop dealing with ISRO on a cryogenic engine contract. The sanctions imposed by US retarded the pace of growth of space technologies.

Other issues during the US President’s visit this year will be the finalisation of the biggest-ever defence contract for ten C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft. The deal will happen through the FMS route again and the estimated cost is above $3 billion. India is expected to go for another six C-17s after the first ten, according to sources.

As for the US, it will try to convince India to sign the two agreements crucial for greater Indo-US cooperation which include the communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement (CISMOA) and basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geo-spatial cooperation (BECA). However, India’s stand has been made clear during the recent visit to US by the Indian defence minister AK Anthony who refused to sign these agreements citing that there is no benefit for India. Defence Minister AK Anthony also refused to sign the logistics support agreement (LSA). While the US will continue to argue that due to the lack of CISMOA, BECA and LSA agreements, the military equipment to India from US will lack crucial and advanced technology; the Indian military feels that it will not hamper operational capabilities and potential of the equipment. India is also capable of sourcing commercially available technology to plug the gap that the US may create from its policies when it comes to sale of major and critical defence equipment.

Source: India Defence Online

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