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CDS calls for building core space capabilities

By, New Delhi
Apr 12, 2023 02:04 AM IST

Chief of defence staff General Anil Chauhan said, “Space is being used to enhance combat capabilities in other domains - land, sea, air and even cyber..."

Chief of defence staff General Anil Chauhan on Tuesday stressed the need for India to sharpen focus on building core offensive and defensive space capabilities, while drawing attention towards the militarisation of space, the development of weapons by different nations, and the possibility of war in the critical domain.

Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan (PTI)
Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan (PTI)

“Space is being used to enhance combat capabilities in other domains - land, sea, air and even cyber...The military applications of space is the dominant discourse from which we cannot remain divorced,” Chauhan said at the Indian DefSpace Symposium 2023 jointly organised by Indian Space Association (ISpA) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

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He said the invasion of the space domain by commercial enterprises as seen during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the intense race towards the militarization of space had resulted in expansion of battlespace, with the nature warfare being on the cusp of a major transformation.

“The aim for all of us should be developing dual-use platforms with special focus on incorporating cutting-edge technology and we must expand our NavIC constellation, provide agile space-based ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), and ensure secure satellite-assisted communications,” he said.

NavIC, or Navigation with Indian Constellation, refers to a regional navigation satellite system established by the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Chauhan’s comments came days after Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari called for building offensive and defensive space capabilities to safeguard assets, while stressing that the race to weaponize space had already started, and the day was not far when the next war would be fought across land, sea, air, cyber and space. The IAF chief said India needed to capitalise on its initial successes in space and prepare itself for the future.

The CDS spoke about the need to explore the field of miniaturization of satellites and reusable launch platforms to mitigate cost, challenges and accelerate the pace of augmenting India’s space-based capabilities. “The populating of space domain and the emergence of dynamic threat environment to our space assets also demands that we enhance our space situational awareness capability. There’s also a requirement to safeguard our assets with counter space capabilities. We must build resilience and redundancy in a space-based infrastructure.”

He spoke about the need to build offensive and defensive space capabilities in the context of strides made by Russia and China in the sector.

DRDO chief Samir V Kamat said the organisation has sharpened its focus on the space domain, including space-based surveillance, situational awareness and protecting space-based assets.

“Space is the next frontier that requires our attention. We have mastered basic space technologies, but the number of satellites must go up significantly as we are far behind China on this front,” Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies, earlier said.

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