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India to set up aerospace command

Gandhinagar, January 28
An aerospace command will be established soon to exploit outer space and control space-based assets, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi said today. The Indian Air Force (IAF) was in the process of establishing this command by integrating its capabilities, he told reporters here.

Air chief Tyagi’s remarks assume significance in the wake of reports that China successfully tested an anti-satellite missile. “As the reach of the IAF is expanding, it has become extremely important that we exploit space and for it you need space assets,” Air chief Tyagi, who is due to retire in March, said. “We are an aerospace power having trans-oceanic reach. We have started training a core group of people for the aerospace command”. Air chief Tyagi, here to attend a station commanders’ conference of the South Western Air Command, was non-committal on the exact time frame for setting up the command.

“We will take the help of ISRO for the aerospace command but it will have distinct features as it is a military command,” Air chief Tyagi said in reply to a question on the role of the space agency in setting up the proposed formation.

The command would combine various components like satellites, radars, communication systems and fighter aircraft and helicopters, IAF officers said.

This would be done while taking into consideration diverse needs like communication, reconnaissance and battlefield damage assessment as the reach of the IAF had increased, they said.

To a question on China’s military modernisation drive, Air chief Tyagi said, “They are ahead in some fields (in comparison to India) and in some fields we are ahead. That country has huge resources due to their rapid economic development”. He said the role of the IAF had changed with the times.

“The IAF needs to transform itself to adapt to new requirements. Its basic role to protect airspace and borders of the country is still there, but we have to protect our global interests. We plan to have strategic reach to meet our needs of new strategic boundaries.

“We have drawn the road map for the transformation of the IAF and we are on the right track”. Air chief Tyagi further said the IAF's interaction on a global scale has increased and it has done joint air exercises with several countries in recent times.

Speaking about accidents involving IAF aircraft, Air chief Tyagi said the percentage of such incidents has been considerably reduced.

“In relative terms, no other air force in the world has registered such a drop in the number of air accidents”. — PTI

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