We are seeing militarisation of space, steady progress towards weaponisation: Chief of Defence Staff

Gen. Anil Chauhan was speaking at the Indian DefSpace Symposium organised by the Indian Space Association in association with the DRDO.

April 11, 2023 08:52 pm | Updated April 12, 2023 12:05 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan. File

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The very nature of warfare is on the cusp of major transformation and what is being witnessed is militarisation of space and steady progress towards weaponisation, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan said on April 11, 2023, while stating that space is being used to enhance combat capabilities in land, sea and cyber domains.

“The aim for all of us should be towards developing dual-use platforms with special focus towards incorporating cutting-edge technology and we must expand our NAVIC constellation, provide agile space-based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and ensure secure satellite-assisted communications,” he said at the Indian DefSpace Symposium organised by the Indian Space Association (ISpA) in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Referring to the development of new kinetic weapons resulting in war in space “becoming a reality”, Gen. Chauhan gave examples of recent tests by Russia and China, and stressed the need to build India’s own offensive and defensive means in this domain.

The event is part of deliberations under ‘Mission Def-Space’, under which 75 challenges have been identified for development by the industry, said Lt. Gen. A. K. Bhatt (retd), Director-General, IspA, an industry association of space and satellite companies.

At DefExpo last October, 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.

Gen. Chauhan also stressed the need to explore the field of miniaturisation 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.”

DRDO chief Samir V. Kamat said they have started increasing their focus on the very critical space domain with focus on space-based surveillance, space situational awareness, protecting our space-based assets. “We are now looking at working very closely with industry as well as academia right from the development stage and have started DRDO industry-academia centres of excellence in about 15 institutions mostly within the country,” he said.

Creation of defence space challenges was an outcome of the Ministry of Defence, the three Services and the Defence Space Agency (DSA) coordinating with the industry and seeing what the industry can do in future for the armed forces, explained Lt. Gen. Bhatt. “The interaction went on for several months and was then vetted by ISRO and DRDO to create these 75 challenges which cover all requirements upstream, mid-stream and down-stream,” he told The Hindu. The challenges are now being implemented in batches and the process is under way.

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