India faces calls to shake up its space capabilities

By Shephard Media

The security implications of China’s growing capabilities and investment in space are causing serious apprehension in India.

Chinese space militarisation directly impacts Indian security. Such geopolitical concerns have led the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), essentially a civil space agency, to expand over the years into a military role.

In a move to integrate space assets of the three services – the army, navy and air force – the Defence Space Agency (DSA) became operational in November 2019. India is yet to take steps to beef up the DSA, Ajey Lele, senior fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, told Shephard.

There is an urgent need to evolve from a DSA to an Indian space force along the lines of the US Space Force (USSF), he added.

The task of the US Space Force (USSF) is unambiguous. John Roth, Acting Secretary of the USAF, on 7 May told a US congressional subcommittee that both the air force and USSF are moving decisively to confront new and emerging threats, including those from China and Russia, while also devoting resources ‘to rid our ranks of corrosive elements and injustices’.

With theatre commands for the three Indian armed services imminent, space influences their surveillance and communication. A senior Indian Air Force official said on condition of anonymity: ‘This will bring in better synergy among the three forces.’

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