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    India Needs Space Command – Strategic Technologies Head of Leading Think Tank

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    Ajey Lele of the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses is of the opinion that all major economies of the world, including China, Russia and the US, are gearing up for space warfare and that India too needs to be vigilant, given the many adversaries it has.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): In June this year, US President Donald Trump announced that his country was going to establish a Space Force to fight in space alongside the military. What ensued was a raging debate on a possible space war, with analysts pointing out the necessity for countries to chalk out their respective space warfare strategies.

    Sputnik spoke to retired Group Captain Ajay Lele, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), to understand the discourse better. Lele heads IDSA's Centre on Strategic Technologies. 

    READ MORE: Space Force: Trump’s Gift to Defense Contractors

    Sputnik: It is now being widely considered feasible to threaten a nation's security through the use of space. What has triggered the recent debate on this issue?

    Ajay Lele: The debate actually could be said to have begun with China doing an anti-satellite test during Jan 2007 and creating a lot of debris in space. Subsequently, China has been found carrying out some activities in space which are not harmful on the face of it but provide sufficient indication of their interest towards developing counter-space capabilities. Russia is also giving the same indication. On the other hand, the US has a spaceplane called X-37b, which remained in space for many months, but the US is not ready to tell the purpose behind its mission. Now in June 2018, Mr. Trump announced that the US would establish a Space Force, the sixth fighting arm for their defense establishment. All this is raising suspicion that major states are looking at space as the next playground for warfare.

    READ MORE: Professor Explains if Establishment of US Space Force Really Necessary

    Sputnik: For the last many decades, efforts were afoot to keep space out of the ambit of an arms race. Have those efforts eventually failed?

    Ajay Lele: Not really, but any effort has a shelf life and developments in technologies are making old practices obsolete.

    Sputnik: The speed with which satellite technology in aid of communication and surveillance has developed in the last three decades, enhancing strategic and operational transparency – could any disturbing development like a possible space warfare be detrimental to the technological advancements made till now?

    Ajay Lele: No, space warfare is technologically challenging and as such technologies in the space domain have possible dual-use implications. 

    READ MORE: Beijing to Launch Satellite Network to Monitor South China Sea Traffic

    Sputnik: Paralyzing adversary networks is one area of concern in space warfare; how much risk does India have on this front especially from its neighbors? What should the country do to avoid such a situation?

    Ajay Lele: For India, there could be a direct threat to its low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Such satellites could be destroyed by using a technology called KKV (kinetic kill vehicle) or by creating systems to malfunction by using cyber means or by using jamming technologies. As a first step, India needs to establish a space command.  

    The views and opinions expressed by retired Group Captain Ajay Lele are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    satellite communication system, force, capabilities, space war, communication, Donald Trump, India, China, United States, Russia
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