BENGALURU: The proposed tri-services military command for space and cyberspace is likely to be formed next year, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said here on Saturday.
Every agency today wants to have a strong presence in the two domains and Indian Forces need them to sharpen intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks, he said.
“Future warfare will be silent and network-centric. We need tremendous capabilities in cyber and space. Our proposal [for a joint command] is with the government and is being considered seriously. I think it will definitely [be in place] by next year,” the chief of Indian Air Force said in a lecture addressed to a gathering of defence and aerospace professional in Bengaluru.
The new joint force would function on the lines of the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman & Nicobar Command.
The Air Force is expected to have its own data link in a year’s time. It looked for a space network with dedicated military satellites for communication, observation and navigation; and the capabilities to operate satellites, analyse and use the data from satellite imageries of the ground. “We are all going to have satellites, which will contribute to meeting the requirements of the three services,” Air Chief Marshal Raha later said and added that the three forces currently shared data from the Navy’s communication satellite (GSAT-7). In two years, the IRNSS, the GPS-like constellation of regional navigation satellites that the national space agency ISRO is creating, would be ready. (It will give enhanced details of position of objects and people.)
The IAF chief also said because of budgetary constraints, the Force focussed on maintaining and upgrading the existing fleet of 35 fighter plane squadrons. This should go up to 42 squadrons by 2027. The Force needed indigenous aircraft like the Light Combat Aircraft that is almost ready and the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft that has been initiated. He hoped that the MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) deal would be signed early, adding “Budget is a very huge constraint and challenge. There are not enough monies for capital acquisition or purchase of open platforms, equipment and systems.”