Satellite Imagery From snapping Pak F-16 home to fighter bases deep inside China, technology outpaces policy
Deputy National Security Advisor Vijay Nambiar wants international laws to prevent services like Google from “revealing” satellite pictures on the web of sensitive installations in India, including military bases. He wants them to seek India’s permission and wants the Government to get in touch with Google.
Nambiar’s fears are clearly not keeping pace with technology.
For, just a few minutes on Google Earth mapper show how misplaced the fears are.
It takes less than half an hour to click and zero in on some of the most sensitive military bases in Pakistan and China, including the maximum-security Sargodha F-16 station and the Liayong Q-5 strike fighter base.
For China alone—a country that blocks Tiananmen Square protests—on the search engine, it took just 10 minutes to trace over 30 fighter bases.
So while it’s no work at all pulling out high-resolution imagery of India’s most valuable fighter base, the Lohegaon Sukhoi-30 base outside Pune, the fact is it’s even simpler finding the Pakistan Air Force’s Chaklala C-130 Hercules base in Rawalpindi.
Nambiar told The Indian Express: “It is a question of principle and a question of resolution. Such photos cannot be taken without the country’s permission.”
Critics argue that such easily accessible aerial photos of establishments could be useful to terrorists and insurgents. Supporters dismiss this as simplistic given the programme’s mandatorily two-year-old or older imagery and the fact that the satellite’s eyes don’t discriminate.
Military bases are, of course, just the beginning. Google Earth’s reach spans everywhere from Minuteman inter-continental missile bases in Idaho to the Los Alamos nuclear enrichment facility, Sri Lanka’s MiG-27 bases to decommissioned Russian Sukhoi junkyards in Siberia.