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Pakistan joins China's Beidou Satellite System; abandons GPS

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Pakistan has become the first foreign country to use China-based global positioning system, BeiDou, following a bilateral agreement aimed at strengthening cooperation in satellite navigation system, Chinese officials have said.

Associated Press of Pakistan quoted the Chinese officials as saying that Pakistan was one of the key and important partners of China in its satellite navigation program and both the countries were cooperating with each other in the training, application systems besides performance monitoring and assessment.

"We perceive a better cooperation perspective with Pakistan in the field of satellite navigation system," said, Ran Chengqi, Directer General of China Satellite Navigation Office (CSNO) and spokesperson for Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).

Pakistan is the only country whose armed forces use the exact version of BeiDou that the PLA uses. The Pakistan Air Force's JF-17 fighter jet is powered by the BeiDou positioning and navigation system. In addition to this, Pakistan's Ra'ad-II cruise missile reportedly uses BeiDou.

In July 2018, two Pakistani satellites were launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China on a Long March-2C rocket. The Chinese rocket took to the sky two satellites, The PRSS1 (Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite) and the PakTES-1A.

The PRSS-1 is China's first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan and the 17th satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer, according to Xinhua news agency. PakTES-1A, is a scientific experiment satellite developed by Pakistan.

Beidou Satellite System has also set up network in Pakistan, Ran told APP during a visit to Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Beidou, China's largest space-based system and one of the four global navigation networks, along with the United States' GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo, began providing positioning, navigation, timing and messaging services to civilian users in China and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012.

At the end of 2018, Beidou started to provide global services. Ran said services provided by the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) were wide-ranging and would benefit the entire world through more international cooperation.

Already, over 30 countries, largely in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, use the system, including for various projects in Indonesia, Kuwait, Uganda, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Russia.

Ran said that enterprises of over 200 countries have so far applied for BDS-based technology. The products manufactured by the Chinese companies are being exported to over 100 countries. "The users of the countries along the Belt and Road region will be our target and we will provide our service to South East Asia, South Asia and African," he added.

China's Answer to GPS Is Now Fully Complete

On June 23, China concluded its decades-long project to build its own global navigation satellite system, a venture that will make it self-sufficient and avoid dependence on foreign rivals when it comes to a network that undergirds modern business, technologies and the military.

The latest satellite in China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System is a third-generation satellite known as BeiDou-3, now in geostationary orbit after having lifted off recently from the Xichang Center in southwestern China.

This final satellite of the system will give it full global capability. At this point, China's completed system is poised to rival America's GPS, Europe's Galileo, and Russia's GLONASS. BeiDou is a prototype of Beijing's push to build and offer commercial surrogates to Western tech platforms. The system is meant to provide error-free global positioning services, as well as a means to transfer limited amounts of data, for commercial and military users, according to Abhilash Halappanavar, an Indian electronics and communications engineer.

The latest satellite will complete the BeiDou navigation and positioning system, consisting of 27 satellites in medium Earth orbit, five in geostationary orbit, and three more in inclined geosynchronous orbits. The first BeiDou satellite was launched in the year 2000; Monday's launch was the 30th third-generation BeiDou-3 satellite sent into orbit.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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