The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi eyes stake in EU satellite system

New Delhi, Nov. 23: India is likely to pitch for a stake in the billion-dollar Galileo Global Satellite System at the summit with the European Union here on November 29. Indications are Delhi is willing to invest nearly $300 million in the proposed system.

Global navigation satellite systems have been described as virtually the Internet of global navigation and are used for mobile telephony, air traffic control and surveillance and almost invariably have a military aspect.

They could prove to be a boon in tracking illegal infiltration across borders, a problem that poses a serious threat to the country’s security. The system could also be used to prevent Indian fishermen from straying into alien waters.

The Americans already have their Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russians are planning to build the Global Navigation Sputnik System or Glonass, with which India has agreed to collaborate. But the Galileo, a joint venture between the EU and the European Space Agency, will be the first system under civilian control, unlike the other two.

The fully deployed Galileo system will consist of 30 satellites and will be inter-operable with GPS and Glonass to help the user take a position with the same receiver from any of the satellites in any combination.

By offering dual frequencies as standard, the Galileo proposes to deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to a few metres, unprecedented for a publicly available system. This will make the system suitable for operations where safety is crucial like running trains, guiding cars and helping aircraft to touch down.

Interestingly, China has already shown a willingness to invest $259 million in the Galileo system, which will approximately be a fifth of the expected cost of the $1 billion network.

India and the EU have held preliminary negotiations earlier and the issue is expected to be taken up again at the summit next week.

South Block officials said though the issue will come up for discussion, in the joint statement after the summit there could at best be a paragraph saying the two sides want to cooperate on the Galileo. But details of the role India can play, and the possibility of Delhi investing in it, will be discussed by a technical committee later.

The India-EU summit, to be preceded by a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, whose country holds the EU presidency, is an indication of closer ties between Delhi and the union.

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