Navigational Capabilities India has completed the Indian RegionalNavigation Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation. The IRNSS with anoperational name of NAVIC is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system that providesaccurate real-time positioning and timing services. It covers India and a regionextending 1,500 km (930 mi) around it. This constellation can be usedto aid in navigation for missions on land, in sea and in air; and can serve fornetwork-centric warfare.Along with modernisation of its defenceequipment, the integration of indigenous navigation systems at the user segmentof these equipment is an important step towards self-reliance in defencetechnology.

Notable examples of such uses will be in the ballistic missileprogrammes such as Agni, and cruise missile programme such as BrahMos. Theindigenous navigational capabilities have a wide array of other uses also—frommost mundane such as location devices for infantry to smart bombs, covertsurveillance and armored warfare.Space Situational AwarenessCyber-attacks, space weather, space debris,collisions with other satellites and ASAT attacks can disrupt functioning ofsatellites-systems. So, it is imperative to have a military space situationalawareness capabilities to not only track objects in space but also map thecapabilities of various space systems and their implications for nationalsecurity.With one and only one major asset for trackingobjects such as space debris being carried out by ISRO’s Multi-Object TrackingRadar (MOTR), India right now has limited capabilities in the field of spacesituational awareness. However, from military point of view, there is a need todevelop space-based systems that can help determine the capabilities of variousspace systems in-orbit and the intentions of its owner.Development of radar-independent tracking methodssuch as lasers, coherent infrared sensors as well as space systems with a solepurpose of tracking the functional capabilities of suspected satellites willassist military functions.

A dedicated space situational awarenessinitiative within the defence space agency can serve for gathering space-basednetwork-centric intelligence capabilities of adversaries.Communications Capabilities GSAT-7 for Navy and GSAT-6 for the armed forcesare the current satellite communications platforms for defence operations.One of the significant areas to explore communicationintelligence from a defence space perspective is to exploit GEO platforms fordata relay services for UAVs or other airborne platforms. Such airborne platformscan send their observation to a data relay satellite in GEO via an optical link.Moreover, there is also scope to explore inter-satellite links between GEOsatellites that can be used to share resources and/or route traffic around asatellite network. India should also focus on having orbital slots available inGEO, which shall be critical to have the necessary authorization byInternational Telecommunications Union (ITU) to place satellites over theIndian-subcontinent.Logic for A Space Security DoctrineIndia has made great efforts to improve its spaceprogramme over the past few years but without a broad strategic plan becauseIndia has lacked an overall strategic doctrine which would align with itslong-term goals and objectives.

There has to be a clear view on what it wantsto achieve as a nation in its overall security and within each of the securitydomains India faces a lot of external security challengesranging from cross-border terrorism and internal insurgencies to border andterritorial issues; all these need a huge defence-space requirement. Alsodreadful terrorist attacks in India, point to the need to better integration ofspace technology for military functions such as reconnaissance, and safe andsecure communication channels. At present all these efforts are done ahaphazard manner.Red lines in space refer to under whatcircumstances offensive use of space will be sanctioned. India needs to refinesits red line. These should not only bring clarity within in Indian departmentsbut also clarity in the minds of the adversary as to what is consideredpermissible behavior and what might provoke a negative response which includes intentionaljamming and blinding, destruction and interference. A code of conduct andstandard operating procedures should be laid down.

The doctrine will also deal with the internalsecurity of India. The internal security challenges include surveillance of thecross-border areas, monitoring of the vast coastlines and water spaces, andmonitoring naxal-affected areas. The cyber-outer space interface is anothermajor issue and should be dealt with comprehensively. India should developa set of considered options that would protect against its vulnerabilities inspace.Space Security Strategies and PolicyAs mentioned before, what India lacks is anoverarching strategy that guides its space programme. India has to factor inthe growing requirements of the space assets in social, economic and securityarenas.

A space security strategy will harmonize these growing requirements,taking into account India’s total capacity, including political and economiccapital.  National space security strategy should also include the commandand control structures to implement and respond to situations identified in thedoctrine such as offensive uses of space and maintaining space deterrence.Audit of Technology Integration andPerformance  Comprehensive auditing becomes an integral partof the system that deals with technological developments and, more importantly,technology integration and performance. Constant monitoring on the performanceof the programmes, the direction of the organisation, insights from aninternational technology and geopolitical perspective through a parliamentary sourcegroup or government-funded defence think tanks—such as the Institute forDefence and Strategic Analyses (IDSA), Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)—canbe done via a dedicated Task Force created within the DSA for this purpose.ConclusionThere is a need to carefully plan this technologyintegration of satellite-based technologies into the defence realm.

Given thatDRDO does not focus its efforts on development of satellite platforms, there istremendous opportunity for Indian industry to invest into such platforms.The defence space agency can act as an observerand regulator, which will constantly assess the needs of the armed forces and fulfillthose needs. This provides a win-win situation for both the armed services andthe local industry. For long-term capacity building in the country, we can lookforward to turnkey solutions for satellite-based products and services. Further,this will enhance the tremendous efforts put forth by ISRO to develop a localindustry ecosystem over the past decades.Additionally, international JVs under initiativessuch as ‘Make in India’, can serve to bridge the gap among state-of-the-arttechnologies.India needs to setup a clear protocol forcoordination of defence space use between already established institutions—suchas Defence Image Processing and Analysis Centre (DIPAC), Aviation ResearchCentre (ARC), National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), DefenceIntelligence Agency (DIA), Defence Satellite Control Centre (DSSC), andResearch and Analysis Wing (R&AW). The critical aspect of the utilisationof the space dimension for intelligence gathering by these institutions canfurther elevate the quality of inputs to both investigative bodies as well aspolicymakers for internal and external security.

 

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