Two years after the government dubbed the ASAT test a success, Air Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), divulged that the country lacks the indigenous technical capability to observe, track and identify non-allied objects in orbit. He acknowledged that there remains a wide gap in capability development for the nation's military satellite applications.
The vice chief said that space has become a playground for the world’s best minds to continue evolving and breaking new ground. He has advised the country's defence research unit and space agency to integrate their existing capabilities into the air surveillance feature.
“The Air Force is aiming to expand its footprint in space exploration, in partnership with ISRO. The Kargil war [against Pakistan in 1999] served as a trigger for having additional satellites to enhance our operations. In recent times, increased focus on military space application has been one of the accelerating key factors,” he said on Tuesday in New Delhi. The ISRO will launch five more satellites for the armed forces in the coming months, according to reports. Presently, Indian armed forces are said to have eight dedicated military satellites.
Observing that the ability to use aircraft as launch platforms may well be the future, Chaudhari said that space tech capabilities have become a crucial component for the IAF's military operations.
"Our strategy is to fully integrate air and space capabilities to have a common operating picture in the aerospace medium,” he emphasized.
India had conducted an ASAT test with a relatively small craft
in comparison to communication satellites, with a surface area of some two square meters and at a low velocity. With the test, India joined a short list of countries—China, the United States, and Russia—that have demonstrated the space capability.