IAF Has a Roadmap For All Three Structures Within the Space Domain, says Air Chief

Defexpo 2022

Gandhinagar: With tensions on two fronts – northern and western – Chief of Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari said the Indian Air Force (IAF) has a roadmap for all three structures within the space domain, which are communications, surveillance, and positioning and navigation, and we are prioritising on the communication capabilities right now.

“We have a roadmap on what we need for the future [the space domain]. Right now, our first focus is on building communications systems on our next INSAT-7C [satellite],” he told a media house on the sidelines of the DefExpo.

At the DefExpo on October 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Mission DefSpace’, an ambitious effort to develop innovative solutions for the three Services in the space domain through the Indian industry and start-ups. Under this, 75 challenges are being opened to secure innovative solutions based on the defence requirements in the space domain.

On the unmanned efforts being perused by the IAF, the Air Chief said that, right now, the IAF was focussing on some of the unmanned technologies going from Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs, while noting that the concept of Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT) is a bit futuristic right now.

“Once we have established a good network of drones of various calibre, parallelly we are also working on MUMT, but focus on MUMT will gain traction once we have a well-established network of unmanned systems,” he stated.

On the creation of a weapon system branch for officers in the IAF, which will bring all weapon systems operators of the force under one roof, he said it would essentially “be for manning of four specialised streams of Surface to Surface missiles, Surface to Air Missiles, Remotely Piloted Aircraft, and weapon system operators in twin and multi-crew aircraft. Creation of this branch would result in savings of over ₹3,400 crore due to reduced expenditure on flying training,” he had said.

The MUMT is a hybrid concept of high-end UAVs working in tandem with manned fighter aircraft. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has begun working on this concept. The three services are currently on a major drive to induct a range of unmanned systems, from small copters to large armed-UAVs.