In a transformative move signalling India’s commitment to strengthen its aerospace capabilities, a proposal to rename the IAF (Indian Air Force) as the Indian Air and Space Forces is on the verge of materialization, now waiting for imminent government clearance media reports have revealed on December 12, 2023
Alignment with Defence Minister Directive
This initiative aligns with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s directive during the 37th Air Chief Marshal PC Memorial Lecture in the month of May 2022. The Defence Minister underlined the importance and imperative for the IAF to transcend into an aerospace force, adequately equipped to tackle future challenges.
Role of Defence Space Agency
This decision stems from a comprehensive doctrine followed by the IAF, highlighting the critical integration of space capabilities within its operational framework. Collaborative efforts with organisations like ISRO, DRDO, IN-Space and private industry are underway. The anticipated transformation extends beyond conventional boundaries, envisioning the deployment of over 100 military satellites in the ensuing seven to eight years as per available reports, leveraging private sector synergy. Simultaneously, the Defence Space Agency inaugurated in 2019 as a tri-service entity is set to grow into a fully-fledged space command.
Integration of Space within Operational Frameworks
Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari (VR Chaudhari) also previously spoke of India’s necessity to develop offensive and defensive, echoing the success of Mission Shakti in 2019 when the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) executed an anti-satellite test (interceptor missile test). The proactive stance embraces spaces’ strategic significance recognizing it as a frontier of future conflicts. With adversaries such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) accelerating their arsenal with a spectrum of A-SAT weaponry (Anti-Satellite Weaponry), India with this move would acknowledge the criticality of space dominance.
Countering Potential Threats
To counter potential threats, India is nurturing advanced wing bodies and is soon to integrate operational manoeuvres between air and space seamlessly from Offensive Counter Air Operations (OCA) and Defensive Counter Air (DCA) towards encompassing Offensive Counter Space (OCS) and Defensive Counter Space (DCS) operations. The evolution would also mean the integration of space within the Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS), fortifying comprehensive air and space situational awareness by amalgamating diverse sensor networks.
As per media reports, Air Marshal GS Bedi, a former high-ranking official underscores the imperative to detect and neutralize evolving threats emanating from space and emphasises the need for heightened vigilance via integrated space-based sensors. Further, as per available information, the IAF has also commenced specialized training, including space-related contingencies, encompassing scenarios featuring GPS and or satellite communications deniable. This will ensure uninterrupted operational efficacy despite potential adversaries that curtail access to space-based capabilities.