Indian Air Force – ISRO: Use of space as an extended battle ground has become a new reality and maintaining situational awareness in space is need of the hour, said a top Indian Air Force officer, adding that lack of an indigenous observation facility in outer space affects India’s defensive and anti-satellite capabilities.
Air Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, Vice Chief of the Air Staff of Indian Air Force said that space might not be the last frontier but it has become a playground for the world’s best scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to continue evolve and break new grounds.
Addressing the programme ‘Space Technologies for National Defence’, organized by the industry body FICCI in association with Society for Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Studies (SAMDeS), the officer said that in the absence of an independent military space programme the military has been dependent on the civilian space programmes of ISRO in the past.
“Space tech capabilities have become crucial component for our military operations. Our strategy is to fully integrate air and space capabilities to have a common operating picture in the aerospace medium,” said the officer. “There is a lot of scope for capacity development in the realm of military satellite applications.”
Air Marshal Chaudhari said at present the country does not have indigenous capability to observe, track and identify non-cooperative objects in outer space.
“This not only restricts our defensive outer space capabilities but also limits our anti-satellite capabilities in the future. Therefore, space situational awareness is the need of the hour,” Chaudhary said.
The senior officer said the country’s military should be able to find out the hostile manoeuvres of an adversary’s space assets.
“The existing capabilities of ISRO and DRDO could be made to be integrated into the air surveillance feature,” he noted.
Chaudhary said the Air Force was aiming to expand its footprint in space exploration in partnership with ISRO.
The Kargil war served as a trigger for having additional satellites towards enhancing our operations. In recent times, increased focus on military space application has been one of the accelerating key factors,” observed the senior officer.
He also emphasised on the need to develop indigenous on-demand launch capabilities.