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India To Set Up Aerospace Defence Command

Indian airforce chief Shashi Tyagi addresses a press conference in Gandhinagar, some 30 Kms from Ahmedabad, 28 January 2007. Indian airforce chief Shashi Tyagi said the military was in the process of establishing an aerospace defence command "to exploit outer space," the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported. "As the reach of our airforce is expanding it has become extremely important that we exploit space and for it you need space assets," Tyagi told reporters in the western Indian city of Gandhinagar. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Jan 28, 2007
India will set up an aerospace defence command to shield itself against possible attacks from outer space, officials said Sunday. The announcement came three days after Russia backed India's response to a Chinese satellite-destroying weapons test that demanded a "weapons free outer space." Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Shashi Tyagi said it was in the process of establishing an aerospace defence command "to exploit outer space," the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.

"As the reach of our airforce is expanding it has become extremely important that we exploit space and for it you need space assets," Tyagi told reporters in the western city of Gandhinagar.

"We are an aerospace power having trans-oceanic reach and we have started training a core group of people for the aerospace command," the air chief marshall said without specifying a time-frame for the ambitious project.

Tyagi said IAF would seek civilian help for the project.

"We will take help of ISRO (Indian Space Research organisation) for the aerospace command but it will have distinct features as it is a military command," he said.

Military sources said the IAF would try and replicate the North American Aerospace Defence Command set up by the United States and Canada which detects and tracks threatening man-made objects in outer space.

The Indian command's charter will also include ensuring air sovereignty and air defence, they said.

"The aerospace command will be an integration of various components of the airforce, Indian satellites, radars, communications systems, fighter aircraft and helicopters," PTI quoted an unnamed airforce official as saying.

The IAF, the world's fourth largest with around 800 combat jets and some 400 support aircraft, plans to establish air superiority in Asia with the acquisition of 126 latest war jets at a cost of some seven billion dollars.

Tyagi said the airforce was extending its strategic reach.

"The basic role of the IAF 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 thus drawn the roadmap for the transformation of the IAF and we are on the right track," he added.

The IAF has developed air-launched cruise missile systems. It also has a key role in the deployment of India's nuclear arms arsenal.

China, which fought a bitter border war with India in 1962, destroyed an orbiting satellite this month using a ballistic missile -- making it the third country after Russia and the US with such capabilities.

The successful splashdown of an Indian capsule last week into the Indian Ocean signalled the country's growing reach into outer space and its obsession for military spin-offs from such projects.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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China's Satellite Destruction Spurs US Space Policy Debate
Washington (AFP) Jan 25, 2007
China's confirmation that it tested an anti-satellite weapon is refueling debate in the United States between proponents of space regulation and those who insist on Washington's absolute free rein. Until now, space has remained largely a zone of cooperation but tensions could grow, especially since satellites are vulnerable to attack, said Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information.

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