Ten low-earth orbit satellites will track aggression, terrorism, piracy, smuggling, source of oil slicks, especially in the Indian Ocean Region.

India and France have formalised the development and launch of what is probably a unique constellation of around 10 low-earth orbit satellites that will continuously provide maritime surveillance and security.

They will cover a wide belt around the globe and specifically focus on the Indian Ocean region where France, with its Reunion Islands, has a strategic interest.

When in place, the satellite-based Automatic Identification System or AIS will detect, identify and track a range of vessels moving in the ocean region and guard against aggression, terrorism, piracy, smuggling, source of oil slicks and also be useful for rescues. At present, ship operators do fix a non-space-based AIS on their vessels but they can turn it off when they do not want to be detected and identified.

Most ships are mandated to have a transponder that gives their details and also to detect ships around them. By making out the kind of ship, its location, speed and course with AIS, a country’s maritime force can make out potential threats, similar to the aviation system of IFF or ‘identify friend or foe’ for planes.

Read more at The Hindu