Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India had shot down a satellite in space on Wednesday with an anti-satellite missile, hailing the test as a major breakthrough in its space programme.
Modi made the announcement in a television address to the nation. He said India would only be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China.
Such capabilities have raised fears of the weaponisation of space and setting off a race between rival powers.
“Some time ago, our scientists, shot down a live satellite 300 kilometres away in space, in low-earth orbit,” Modi said, calling it a historic feat.
“India has made an unprecedented achievement today,” he said, speaking in Hindi. “India registered its name as a space power.”
Modi faces a general election next month. He went on Twitter earlier to announce his plan for a national broadcast, saying he had an important announcement to make.
India has had a space programme for years, making earth imaging satellites and launch capabilities as a cheaper alternative to Western programmes.
Brahma Chellaney, a security expert at New Delhi’s Centre of Policy Research, said the United States, Russia and China were pursuing anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.
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