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IAF mulls expanding footprint in space exploration

New Delhi, Sept 7 (UNI): The Indian Air Force is looking at expanding its footprint in space exploration in partnership with ISRO, Vice Chief of Indian Air Force, Air Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari said on Tuesday.

“The Air Force is 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,” Air Marshal Chaudhari said at an e-Symposium on ‘Space Technologies for National Defence’, organised by FICCI, in association with Society for Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Studies (SAMDeS).

Air Marshal Chaudhari said in the absence of an independent military space programme the military has been dependent on the civilian space programme of ISRO in the past. He added that focus on military space application has increased.

He noted that there is a need to push the envelope towards indigenous launch-on-demand capabilities.

“The ability to use aircraft as launch platforms may well be the future. 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. We also need to acknowledge that there is a lot of scope for capability development in the realm of military satellite applications,” he emphasised.

He said India does not have indigenous capability to observe, track and identify non-cooperative objects in outer space at present, which is a security concern.

“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. We should be able to know the hostile manoeuvres by adversaries’ space objects. The existing capabilities of ISRO and DRDO could be made to be integrated into the air surveillance feature,” he noted.

He stressed that space as an extended battle space is a new reality, and India needs to adapt to this new environment rapidly.

The IAF brought a blueprint on defence in space titled ‘Defence Space Vision 2020’ last year.

In 2019, India held IndSpaceEx, a table-top exercise, conducted by the Ministry of Defence to assess threats in space from a military perspective and to look at India’s present capability.

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