IAF should become Aerospace force, says Rajnath Singh as China attempts to militarise space

Amid Chinese efforts to develop capabilities for military use of space, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has urged the Indian Air Force (IAF) to become and Aerospace Force and be ready to protect India’s interests from ever evolving threats.

Delivering the keynote address for the 37th Air Chief Marshal PC Lal Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on 5 May, the Defence Minister called for technology evolution, gaining expertise and human resource management to defend the country against space-guided attacks and protect the space assets.

“Change is the law of nature. It is eternal. This law is applicable to war as well. As students of military affairs and geopolitics, it is our duty to keep anticipating the nature of future wars. Steps are being taken by our adversaries towards military use of space. This is likely to have an adverse effect on our interests. We, therefore, need to identify and be fully prepared for the evolving security challenges,” he said, according to a Defence Ministry release.

The Defence Minister’s statement comes as China is trying to attempt militarisation of space.

“China now has the technology, hardware and know-how to coordinate a war from space,” defence analysts were quoted in a report by US state-owned international broadcaster Voice of America.

The publication reported that China’s 2019 white paper ‘China’s National Defence in the New Era’ notes a growing role in space for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

“In line with the strategic requirements of integrating air and space capabilities as well as coordinating offensive and defensive operations, the PLAAF is accelerating the transition of its tasks from territorial air defense to both offensive and defensive operations,” the paper said.

Singh added that the nature of future wars can be assessed through a closer look at the situation in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and the recent Ukrainian conflict.

“Although these trends are suggestive, but we can gain a deeper understanding by correlating them with our local threats,” he said. Singh voiced the Government’s resolve to provide specialised skills training to the Armed Forces personnel, especially IAF, in latest technology to make them future ready.

Highlighting the importance of technology in wars, Singh said the use of technology has seen an unprecedented increase in recent times.

He, however, stated that expensive platforms/weapon systems do not alone ensure victory; it is their employment which gives an edge in wars. “Be it precision guided munition, unmanned aerial vehicles or manpack anti-tank weapons, their deployment in any future war will be as critical as it had been in the past. Technology is a force multiplier, but without innovative deployment, state-of-the-art equipment will be a mere display,” he added

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