- The Indian armed forces are all set to conduct the country’s first-ever simulated space warfare exercise “IndSpaceEx”.
- The tri-Service integrated defence staff under the defence ministry is conducting the two-day “IndSpaceEx”, with all military and scientific stakeholders.
- Aim: 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.
- Such an exercise was being planned after India successfully tested an anti-satellite (A-Sat) interceptor missile to destroy the 740-kg Microsat-R satellite, at an altitude of 283-km in the low earth orbit, in a “hit-to-kill mode”.
- The exercise will help Indian armed forces in testing the cosmic war zone and see how the A-Sat capabilities can be used to defend the Indian skies.
- The exercise comes at a time when India’s neighbour China is aggressively growing in this field.
- Shortly after ‘Mission Shakti’, Beijing had launched several missiles from a ship to demonstrate its A-Sat capabilities.
In response to China
- China has been developing an array of A-Sat weapons, both kinetic in the shape of co-orbital killer satellites and direct ascent missiles as well as non-kinetic ones like lasers and electro-magnetic pulse weapons.
- Though India for long has had an expansive civilian space programme, it largely restricted military use of space to intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, communication and navigation.
- It will lead to an assessment of the “imminent threats” in the expanse beyond earth and the drafting of a joint space doctrine for futuristic battles.
- The A-Sat test and the approval for the tri-Service Defence Space Agency signifies the crossing of that self-imposed threshold for developing offensive space capabilities.
- India has no option but to develop deterrence capabilities to ensure no adversary can threaten its assets in outer-space.
Why such exercise?
- Not only can an adversary’s counter-space weapons take out India’s assets critical for its economic and social infrastructure, they can also “blind and deafen” the Indian armed forces.
- They could do so by destroying or jamming satellites vital for surveillance, communication, and precision-targeting.
- Having demonstrated its ASAT capability, India is in an ideal place to demonstrate its global governance credentials.
- Clearly, efforts like the IndSpaceEx are important to determine the degree of the space security challenges India faces and to develop appropriate measures for effective deterrence.
- But India must step up its efforts to develop global rules and norms about such challenges and threats.
- India must continue working towards all-encompassing legally-binding instruments such as the Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS).