Space the next frontier, says military body | india | Hindustan Times
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Space the next frontier, says military body

Triggering a fresh debate on weaponisation of space, the Ministry of Defence has backed the use of space for military purposes, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2008 02:21 IST
Rahul Singh

Triggering a fresh debate on weaponisation of space, an organisation under the Ministry of Defence has backed the use of space for military purposes.

The suggestion is bound to cause embarrassment to the government, which has called for strengthening international legal regime for peaceful use of outer space.

VRS Natarajan, chairman, Society of Defence Technologists (SODET) told HT, “India has to get going and use space technology for military programmes. Our neighbours are taking strides. We have to exploit our expertise in the civilian space programme for defence purposes.”

Defence PSUs such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BHEL) are represented in SODET, which comes under the MoD’s department of defence production.

The government had passionately opposed weaponisation of space after China conducted a successful anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test against its own satellite last year raising concerns of a space arms race.

But SODET founder-chairman and former HAL boss CGK Nair said, “Denying ourselves crucial capabilities can be suicidal. We must pay attention to global trends. India is focussed only on civilian use.”

Nair was making a presentation for Defence Minister A.K. Antony at a seminar organised by SODET on defence R&D and technology management.

He advised defence PSUs and DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) to work in partnership with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) to develop space-enabled military capabilities.

Nair said had India used space for military purposes, it could have prevented the Kargil War or at least delivered firepower more accurately to inflict maximum damage on the enemy. “For victory in tomorrow’s wars, the medium has to be used effectively.”

Antony refused comments on the divisive issue.

Nair said India had a diversified civilian space programme that met needs in areas such as navigation, communications and remote sensing, but it was time to expand its scope.

Viewing use of outer space for military objectives as a major challenge, India has consistently maintained that it is the collective responsibility of all nations to ensure the safety and security of space assets. But Nair referred to China’s space-based capabilities to get the Indian establishment to do a rethink.