Barely 125 km from the Line of Actual Control, Ngari station gives China the capability to identify all Indian spy satellites over Tibet.
New Delhi: An advanced satellite centre China has built in Tibet, barely 125 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), could be used to track, blind and potentially even destroy Indian eyes in the sky, latest satellite imagery obtained by ThePrint indicates.
The satellite tracking station at Ngari, which seems to be similar to the Iranian one at Delijan (identified in 2013), gives China the capability to identify all Indian spy satellites over Tibet. A capability that may force India to change the path of its satellites over the region.
Latest imagery suggests that work is continuing at the Ngari centre that could possibly be expanded to integrate China’s anti-satellite missile weapons such as Hongqi-19 or HQ-19/SC-19 and Dongneng-2.
The current set-up also suggests that a futuristic laser system or direct ascent kinetic weapons could be deployed sooner than later.
China’s new satellite tracking station — located 5,000 m above sea level — brings it closer to the adversary’s satellite. It is a significant elevation when it comes to tracking low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
The space tracking station was most likely constructed in 2014 and has just been discovered.
The station has a direct power supply from the Ngari hydroelectric station built near Ngari town on a Sutlej tributary. It also has an alternative solar power source for emergencies.
The station has eight radomes on base structures and a parabolic antenna with two coaxial subsystems. Four of these radomes are likely to have parabolic antennae of different sizes.
Located on top of the operations building, two of these radomes are likely to have laser or radar tracking instruments.
The space tracking station also has a tall mast on its northwestern end. It could either be a radio mast or a collimation (the process of adjusting an optical instrument) tower or it could simply be used for hosting a large multiple Helical antenna arrays.
Very close to this space tracking station is a facility, which can be used for calibration of electro-optical (EO) instruments and radars on board satellites as also calibration of GPS satellites.
The facility has modern calibration scales and other equipment, specifically meant for calibration of multi-spectral EO cameras.
The Iranian space tracking station with almost same-size radomes and collimation tower was inaugurated by the then defence minister of Iran, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi.
It is likely that China had assisted Iran by providing the technology that the latter so badly needed to track US satellite surveillance over the country.
With China’s space tracking station coming up barely 125 km from the border, it may have implications for India’s aerospace activity in the region. Present and future paths of Indian satellites over Tibet may need to be modified accordingly.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.