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By Bulbul Singh

10 Apr 07. The Indian defence ministry has taken out the rejected Aerospace Command proposal and has decided to implement it at the earliest instant. The Indian government has now decided to use space not only for surveillance purposes but to use it to defend the security of the country; sources in the Indian defence ministry say this could mean the beginning of using space for military use.

A senior official of the Indian Air Force said that only through the use of space-based applications can the Indian Air Force be made more effective, adding that the Aerospace Command is now the first priority of the Indian Air Force.

The official also said that India’s defence planners are concerned about the January testing of an anti-satellite weapon by China. Plans are underway to protect Indian space assets, including communication, meteorological and surveillance satellites. The official also added that, if the need be, overseas help will be sought, including possible collaboration with the United States, but refused to give any details.

The Indian Air Force official emphasized that an Aerospace Command will have to be established to lay the groundwork to develop capability to “degrade space weapons”.

Sources in the Indian defence ministry said the concept of an Aerospace Command, mooted over four years ago, and which took a back seat last year, relates to the integration of Indian military capabilities with space-based systems through network centric systems for protecting both space assets and to conducting military operations. However, the aerospace command will not be used to launch space-based weapons, the source added. Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) are already working together on the command and control system. Sources said that a core group of scientists and officials from the Indian Air Force is already working on the establishment of an Aerospace Command.

In addition to the early establishment of an Aerospace Command, sources suggest that, India’s research agencies are also working towards the development of anti-satellite technology to counter China, adding that ISRO will undertake work on the development of its nano-satellites for an anti-satellite system.

In addition, the indigenous development of KALI( Kinetic Attack Loitering Interceptor) and DURGA (Directionally Unrestricted Ray Gun) will be progressed to logical conclusions. Both DURGA and KALI are indigenous research programs, Indian versions of the U.S. Star Wars concept and involve shooting down incoming missiles by space-based laser guns.

“Space-based systems which focused earlier on surveillance and reconnaissance will now to be shifted to controlling the realm of space for the benefit of the country while denying it to the adversary,” said an Indian defence ministry official. “To achieve these missions, various space programs are being taken up which include the use of small satellites to manoeuvre around other satellites, use of Kinetic Energy Anti-satellite(KEASAT)systems, and Directed Energy programs as well as counter space initiatives like the Counter Communications Systems (CCS), “added the official.

“DRDO, ISRO and IAF will work towards establishing a space surveillance network towards counter space measures,” confirmed an Indian Air Force official, adding that, “these system will be ultimately linked with the Aerospace Command over the next five to seven years costing billions of dollars.”

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