TEL AVIV Ñ Israel has been mulling an offer by India to lease the
Ofeq-5 military satellite.
India proposed paying a fee for a link from Israel's new Ofeq-5
satellite, said to have a high resolution imagery of 0.5 meters. The issue
was raised during the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to New
Dehli in September.
Israel has never provided foreign access to any of its Ofeq spy
satellites, the first of which was launched in 1988. But Israeli officials
said sharp cuts in the Defense Ministry and the close strategic relations
with New Dehli have led to an Israeli review of its policy, Middle East Newsline reported.
India and Israel have signed a space cooperation agreement that
envisions Israeli cooperation in a range of Indian satellite projects. India
was said to have experienced obstacles in developing advanced remote imagery
payloads for its satellites.
Under the proposal, India would obtain images of the disputed Kashmir
region, which has been the site of a decades-old war with Pakistan. But
officials said Ofeq might also provide imagery of military facilities inside
Ofeq-5 was launched in 2002 by the Shavit launcher. But the satellite
and the booster were designed and manufactured by the state-owned Israel
Officials said Israel's Defense Ministry has offered India the services
of the dual-use Eros-A satellite, launched in 2000. A more advanced
satellite, Eros-B, has been planned for launch by 2005 and is meant to have
a high resolution imagery capability of 0.8 meters.
India is already a satellite operating partner in Eros A, operated by
ImageSat International, in which IAI has a 30 percent stake. Israel's
Defense Ministry is said to be a leading customer of Eros.
Eros-B has offered multi-spectral images that allow customers to
monitor a specific area.