Former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair
Following the success of 'Mission Shakti', former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said on Wednesday that India had anti-satellite missile capability way back in 2007 but there was no political will at the time to demonstrate it.
Nair said when China shot down an ageing weather satellite by launching a missile in 2007, India had the technology to undertake a similar mission.
Led by the DRDO, the operation code-named as "Mission Shakti" was completed in just three minutes in which an anti-satellite weapon ASAT successfully targeted a live satellite on a low earth orbit (LEO).
The satellite used in the mission was one of India's existing satellites operating in lower orbit while a ballistic missile defence interceptor was used to hit it.
"...Now (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji has taken the initiative and he had the political will and courage to say that we will do this. We have now demonstrated this to whole world," Nair said.
He had headed the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), Space Commission and was Secretary in the Department of Space from 2003 to 2009.
Asked if India could have demonstrated the anti-satellite missile capability in 2007 itself, Nair said "certainly", but it could not be done due to absence of "political decision" to go ahead with it at that time.
"Now, Modiji has courageously taken the decision," he said.
Meanwhile, former DRDO chief Vijay Saraswat said that India had the capability to carry out anti-satellite missile test in 2012-13 but there was no political clearance to it.
The prime minister on Wednesday announced India had demonstrated the capability by shooting down a live satellite, describing it as a rare achievement that puts the country in an exclusive club of space superpowers.
India is only the fourth country to have such a specialised capability after the US, Russia and China.