Defending India’s Space Assets

In an interview to Karan Thapar back in February, 2008 Gen Kapoor had put his faith in detecting any Chinese troop buildup in the Tibetan plateau on satellite surveillance.

Karan Thapar: Just a moment ago you mentioned that their infrastructure allows them to move troops very quickly. Recently the Indian Express reported that with the result of roads and railways, the Chinese can move two divisions amounting to 10,000 troops within a space of 20-25 days. Earlier it would have taken three-six months. Does that worry you a little?

General Deepak Kapoor Well that is a matter of concern, but the fact is that if and when they move, there are also images available through the means of satellite when any such movements take place. So there is ample opportunity for sufficient notice to meet such a challenge, if and when it does arise.

Karan Thapar: So with satellites, you mean that every time China moves troops substantially, you know in advance and you can take counter measures.

General Deepak Kapoor The ability to look deeper across the Line of Actual Control is much greater.[link]

But the fly in the ointment was ofcourse that the Chinese had recently successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite Test by shooting down one of their own aging satellites in orbit and there is now an additional risk that during a period of crisis the Chinese might attempt to shoot down any Indian satellites which they deem might give away their troop buildup on the Tibetan plateau or elsewhere.

Now to arm itself against such a scenario the India defence ministry has in a timely manner decided to establish a Space cell to guard India’s space assets.

NEW DELHI: In view of the looming Chinese threat to its communication network and other space assets, India on Tuesday announced the setting up of its Integrated Space Cell (ISC).

The cell is designed to counter the Chinese Military Space Systems that comprises anti-satellite weaponry and a new class of heavy-lift and small boosters acting as catalyst in the next generation satellite warfare system.

The Space Cell will be put under the command of the Integrated Defence Services Headquarters and will act as a single window for integration among the armed forces, the department of space and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Announcing this after inaugurating the two-day Unified Commanders’ Conference in the Capital, defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday expressed concern at the “offensive counter space systems and an improved array of military space systems emerging in our neighbourhood”.[link]

While this is a step in the right direction, India should also seriously consider conducting its own ASAT test as quickly as practicable. That would be a strong deterrent to any adversary against taking potshots at India’s space based assets.

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Filed under India, Indian Military, National Security, Science & Space

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