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India to hold first simulated Space Warfare Exercise next month

Highlights
  • The main aim of ‘IndSpaceEx’ exercise is to assess the requisite space and counter-space capabilities that are needed by India
  • The exercise will help India better grasp the strategic challenges in space that need to be handled, an official said

After successfully testing an anti-satellite (A-Sat) missile in March and initiating the raising of a new tri-service Defence Space Agency soon after, India is now planning to conduct its first-ever simulated space warfare exercise next month.

Named ‘IndSpaceEx’, the exercise will basically be a ‘table-top war-game’, with all stakeholders from the military and scientific community taking part in it, but it does underline the seriousness with which India is taking the need to counter likely threats to its space assets from countries like China.

“Space is getting militarised, as also contested and competitive. The main aim of the exercise, to be held in the last week of July under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Staff of the defence ministry, is to assess the requisite space and counter-space capabilities that are needed by India to ensure we can protect our national security interests in this final frontier of warfare,” a senior official said.



“India needs credible deterrence in the space domain to prevent our adversaries from blinding and deafening our armed forces by taking out our satellites vital for surveillance, communication, missile early-warning, precision-targeting and the like. IndSpaceEx will help us better grasp the strategic challenges in space that need to be handled,” another officer said.

China, after testing an A-Sat missile against a weather satellite in January 2007, has set a scorching pace in developing military capabilities in space in terms of both kinetic (direct ascent missiles, co-orbital kill satellites) as well as non-kinetic (lasers, electromagnetic pulse) weapons. In yet another indicator of its ambitious programme that threatens the supremacy of US in outer space, China launched a rocket with seven satellites from a ship at sea just three days ago.

India, of course, cannot match China despite having a long-standing and robust civilian space programme that has witnessed over 100 spacecraft missions consisting of communication, navigation, earth observation and other satellites. The Indian armed forces, apart from two dedicated military satellites, largely use dual-use remote sensing satellites for surveillance, navigation and communication purposes.

The country took the first step towards developing a credible counter-space capability under ‘Mission Shakti’ when it launched a 19-tonne interceptor missile to destroy the 740-kg Microsat-R satellite, at an altitude of 283 km in the low earth orbit (LEO), in a ‘hit-to-kill mode’ on March 27.

DRDO chief G Satheesh Reddy subsequently said India was working to develop other counter-space capabilities like directed energy weapons (DEWS), lasers, EMP and co-orbital killers as well as the ability to protect its own satellites from electronic or physical attacks, as reported by TOI.

Since then, the new Defence Space Agency has begun to take shape by amalgamating the Defence Imagery Processing and Analysis Centre (Delhi) and the Defence Satellite Control Centre (Bhopal), with a two-star IAF general to be soon appointed to head it. “The agency will eventually grow into a full-fledged Space Command in the years ahead,” the officer said.

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