India has fought wars on Land, Sea and Air in the past. As per current indications in International Strategic scenario, future conflicts will be wars right next to breathable atmosphere in the melee created by hundreds of satellites circling the earth. India has entered the elite club of satellite shooters after “Mission Shakti” conducted in March 2019. But the question is: Is India ready to fight a space war, if need be?
America, China and Russia are already gearing up for overhead conflicts and are in the process of deploying weapons that can attack each other’s assets in the space. Russia and America are our friends and for the time being, we do not have any danger of our space violations by them. Tough America tried to snoop on us through her satellites during our nuclear explosions both in 1974 and 1999, we successfully managed to give her a slip. But much water has flown through Ganges after that, in that all three have weaponized the space in a way that put existing Indian assets and capabilities at risk and we have to buckle up now for the eventuality of a space war, if any of them or any other nation violates our space.
India, as on date, has minimum of 48 functional satellites in the orbit for various tasks. China who is our main adversary, have developed jamming capabilities that can affect Indian satellite communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets including the Ground Positioning System : GPS. She is also developing “Directed Energy Weapons” and has already developed “Advanced Hypersonic Weapons” which even America cannot track. Russians are also following same path way/track as that of China. This is an era of great power competition to become/maintain Super Power Status and next major conflict will be won or lost in space.
China is a clear threat to us. Space is no longer a safe sanctuary because of Chinese actions as far as India is concerned. Space has become ‘War Fighting Domain”. This is not a futuristic or theoretical threat or Novel Scenario, it is a Stark Reality: Today’s Threat. India, therefore, cannot just sit back and watch like a dumb fellow. We have to act and act fast since we have joined the elite ‘Satellite Shooting Club’ couple of days back. India has to be fully prepared to deter the conflict from extending in to the space and on the other hand ensure that she can respond decisively if the deterrence fails during future standoff with China.
India has very large financial stakes in her satellite program. Satellites control our vulnerable systems run through computers with the help/directions from satellites. These include; Railway, Air Ports, Industries, Production, Share Market, Computer Technology, Monsoon Predictions, Satellite and Missile Programs, Broadcasting/Television Industry, Army/Navy/Air Force, Tele Communications, GPS, Delivery and Operational Drones, Self Driving Cars, Mobile/Landline Phones and even the computer on which I am writing/typing this article. Therefore, it is imperative on Ministry of Defence to step up and protect a domain which is as important as Land, Sea and Air. Space is fundamental to our modern way of life. India’s future depends on Space and she has to develop the Force and the Capability to protect and defend our Space Interests.
For this Task, development of a special “Space Force” on the lines of our Army/Navy/Air Force has to be created. This Space Force under Ministry of Defence should be made responsible to organize, train and equip a fighting force. The combatants of this force should be drawn from existing Military as was done during raising of Rashtriya Rifles. Initial strength of this force should be around 20-25,000 soldiers. The Space Force Headquarters should be made responsible for developing/organizing Space Units that will/can protect and defend Indian Space Interests. Since we would be drawing manpower from existing military, it would probably cost us around three percent of our Defence Budget.
To make this force effective, we will have to create a separate command known as “Indian Space Command” working in close association with ISRO/DRDO. This amalgamation will work under “Space Development Agency” under Ministry of Defence. A war fighting commander who can focus especially on space should be appointed to lead the Space Command. This command must also be integrated with present Army/Navy/Air Force Commands to form a “Joint Combat Command” with a suitable Military Officer to act as an “Over All Commander”. But how much of appointment of an Over All Commander would materialize/be possible is anybody’s guess since the appointment of a ‘Combined Defence Staff : CDS’ ,as recommended by Naresh Chandra Committee is pending since end of Kargil War in 1999 due to apathy of IAS Cadre.
This cannot be handled in its entirety by Ministry of Defence and therefore, Indian Industry has to be incorporated in this venture. At the end, we will be able to create an affordable, regular and system based on artificial intelligence. Towards this end we will have to a) Establish Space Force as separate military service under Ministry of Defence, b) Maximize war fighting capacity and advocacy for space, minimizing bureaucracy, c) Out space future threats by reenergizing the space development culture to rapidly build, deploy, operate and innovate at low costs, d) Produce and arm missiles/satellites with kinetic/lazer weapons to destroy enemy satellites and e) Bring a full time operational focus to defend our vital national interest in the space.
As I am penning this article, I am certain that Indian Government and Ministry of Defence must have already given it a thought and started working on it or would have already completed the work on it. But due to reasons of secrecy, it would not be made public that is for sure. This is an attempt to resurrect this concept based on past experience and information collected from Internet.