By Habib Beary
A US-based aerospace company has begun preliminary talks with Indian scientists to collaborate on an airship project designed for civil and military use.
Indian defence officials say it could be used for effective surveillance of the borders it shares with Pakistan and China.
Lieutenant General James Abrahamson, chairman of StratCom International and former director of the Star Wars programme initiated during the Reagan administration, is in talks with officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).
Mr Abrahamson said India, with its technical and software expertise, could play a vital role in developing telecommunication systems, telemedicine, broadband communications and disaster management.
Called stratospheric airships, the first airship prototype is being built with the support of the US defence department.
The unmanned airships powered by solar energy can carry radar sensors as well as the latest communications devices.
The US defence department has invested $100m in the project.
Each airship will cost about $20m and has an operating life of five years.
"These airships are ideal for a country like India where the large geographies demand more complex infrastructure," said Mr Abrahamson.