Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sid that India had test-fired a rocket that shot down one of its own satellites, escalating the country’s rivalry with China and Pakistan, and demonstrating a strategic capability in space that few countries possess.
This technological advancement, which was confirmed by the Pentagon, puts India in an exclusive club of nations, along with the United States, Russia and China; that have proved their ability to destroy targets in space.
But the tech leap has potentially ominous repercussions, accelerating the space race with China and destabilizing the uneasy balance of power between India and Pakistan, which are both armed with nuclear weapons.
It could allow India essentially to blind an enemy by taking out its space-based communication and surveillance satellites.
“India is now a major space power,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to local news report.
“India has achieved a big feat today,” the Indian leader said.
The destroyed satellite was one of India’s own, orbiting the Earth at 186 miles (300 km).
According to the Independent that it may have been a mini-satellite launched into orbit a month ago for this purpose.
The interceptor missile was launched from a launch complex on the East coast of India on Wednesday morning.
“India has always maintained that space should not be an arena for warfare and that remains unchanged in spite of this,” Mohdi said.
“India has always been a nation of peace, but we also defend ourselves. It is with that intention that we achieved this capability.”
The news comes in the midst of election season in India, with polls opening in several weeks. The move could be a bid to bolster Modi’s chances at re-election.