The Indian Air Force (IAF) has a roadmap for all three structures within the space domain, which are communications, surveillance, and positioning and navigation, and we are prioritising on the communication capabilities right now, said Air Chief Marshal (ACM) V. R. Chaudhari on October 20.
“We have a roadmap on what we need for the future [the space domain]. Right now, our first focus is on building communications systems on our next INSAT-7C [satellite],” ACM Chaudhari told The Hindu on the sidelines of the DefExpo.
At the DefExpo on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Mission Def-Space’, an ambitious effort to develop innovative solutions for the three Services in the space domain through the Indian industry and start-ups. Under this, 75 challenges are being opened to secure innovative solutions based on the defence requirements in the space domain.
On the unmanned efforts being perused by the IAF, the Air Chief said that, right now, the IAF was focussing on some of the unmanned technologies going from Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs, while noting that the concept of Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT) is a bit futuristic right now.
“Once we have established a good network of drones of various calibre, parallelly we are also working on MUMT, but focus on MUMT will gain traction once we have a well established network of unmanned systems,” he stated.
In a related development, early this month, on Air Force Day, the Air Chief announced government sanction for the creation of a weapon system branch for officers in the IAF, which will bring all weapon systems operators of the force under one roof. This is the first time since Independence that a new operational branch is being created
“This will essentially be for manning of four specialised streams of Surface to Surface missiles, Surface to Air Missiles, Remotely Piloted Aircraft, and weapon system operators in twin and multi-crew aircraft. Creation of this branch would result in savings of over ₹3,400 crore due to reduced expenditure on flying training,” ACM Chaudhari had stated.
The MUMT is a hybrid concept of high-end UAVs working in tandem with manned fighter aircraft. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has began working on this concept.
The three services are currently on a major drive to induct a range of unmanned systems, from small copters to large armed-UAVs.