Indian Space Force (ISF)
India Strategic|August 2019

An idea whose time has come

Ajey Lele

IndIa’s satellIte launches during the year 2019 indicate India’s increasing focus on using space technologies for the military assistance. also, during this year India has made a very bold statement about its preparedness level in area of counter-space capabilities by successfully undertaking an ASAT (anti-satellite) test. In addition, a long pending demand to improve upon the existing structure for addressing the space based military requirements of the three-forces was met with, by the formation of the defence space agency (DSA). In addition, the Cabinet Committee on security headed by the Prime Minister has also cleared the setting up of a new military space research agency called the defence space Research agency (DSRA).

The Indian space Research Organisation (ISRO) has carried out four major satellite launches during 2019. The most discussed amongst these launches are the one which happened during the months of January and July. The July launch was of Chandrayyan II, India’s second moon mission.

On January 24 this year, a 740 kg satellite called Mocrosat-R was ejected into a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to an altitude of 274 km by ISRO. At that point in time much attention was not given in media to this mission. It was considered as a routine mission, probably meant for reconnaissance or technology testing. No one realised that, actually it was a target satellite launched specifically for the purposes of ASAT! the actual purpose behind this mission became clear on March 27, when DRDO conducted an antisatellite (ASAT) test and destroyed this satellite.

Interestingly, the other two satellites launched april 1, called eMIsat and the one launched on May 22 called RIsat-2B are also satellites with significant military importance. EMISAT is an advanced electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite jointly developed by ISRO-DRDO. It is meant for electromagnetic spectrum measurements. It offers ability to the armed forces to intercept radar signals and know the technical details and the distance of the radar operated by the adversary. RIsat2B is an X-band microwave earth observation satellite. In the past, IsRO has launched RIsat-2 and RIsat-1 satellites with similar capabilities. all these satellites have wider strategic utilities and significant capabilities for military reconnaissance and surveillance.

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