Sky in focus, 'Mission Defence Space' takes off : The Tribune India

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Sky in focus, 'Mission Defence Space' takes off

Private players to provide armed forces with innovative solutions in space domain

Sky in focus, 'Mission Defence Space' takes off

The Indian pavilion at the 12th edition of DefExpo in Gandhinagar on Wednesday. PTI

Tribune News Service

Ajay Banerjee

Gandhinagar, October 19

The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday allowed the private sector to provide the armed forces with innovative solutions for 75 items used in the space sector.

“The three services have reviewed and identified several challenges in this area (space). We have to work faster to solve them,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he launched the “Mission Defence Space” at the DefExpo here today.

He sent out a message to the private sector to participate in solving the challeneges.

“Space technology is an example of what security will mean for any strong nation in the future,” Modi noted.

India’s military use of space started in the 1990s when imagery was used from international satellites. In 2013, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the GSAT-7 (known as Rukmini). All naval ships and planes are connected to it.

In December 2018, the ISRO had launched the GSAT-7A satellite equipped with Ku-band transponders to interlink IAF fighter aircraft, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platforms, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground radar stations, and major airbases.

The Indian Army uses 30 per cent of GSAT-7A’s capacity for communication until its own GSAT-7B is launched.

The Ministry of Defence had approved the GSAT-7C in November last year meant to provide secure communication for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Last year, a satellite was launched just to track ships in the Indian Ocean. It provides a direct feed at a multi-agency centre headed by the Indian Navy.

Alarm bells have been sounded in India as some key technology components are still imported. Hence, there’s a fear of getting “choked” for supplies in a crisis situation.

Modi meanwhile, said, “India’s space technology is shaping new definition of India’s generous space diplomacy, giving rise to new possibilities.” Many African countries and other small countries were benefiting from it, the he said.

India is sharing its space science with 60 countries. The South Asia satellite is a perfect example of this. By next year, 10 ASEAN countries will also get real-time access to India’s satellite data, the PM added.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said innovative solutions based on defence requirements in the space domain were needed.

Lt Gen AK Bhatt (retd), Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA), told The Tribune: “The challenges for the private sector have been worked out with the three armed forces, the Ministry of Defence, the private industry and the ISpA”.

Space diplomacy next big thing

In the coming years, space diplomacy is going to take India to a new height as our satellites will be sharing real-time access with 60 developing countries. India has taken an initiative in maritime security in the Indian Ocean region. — Narendra Modi, PM

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