India building nuclear attack platform in space

By Iftikhar Gilani, October 7, 2003

NEW DELHI: India has started building an aerospace command station to have nuclear weapons platforms in space to provide an edge to its retaliatory capability in case of a nuclear attack, Indian Air Chief S Krishnaswamy said on Monday.

“Any country on the fringe of space technology like India has to work towards such a command station because advanced countries are already moving towards laser weapon platforms in space and killer satellites,” Mr Krishnaswamy said.

The Indian air chief took further Defence Minister George Fernandes’ earlier claims and asserted that a space platform for nuclear weapons was no longer in the realm of science fiction. He said the Indian Air Force (IAF) had started work on such a weapons system and its operation command system. On the Strategic Forces command, raised recently to operate and command the country’s nuclear arsenal, Mr Krishnaswamy said it became “operational” on the IAF’s 71st anniversary last Wednesday. “Elements that are supposed to be there are there along with a newly set up chain of command and operation manuals,” he added.

While admitting that there were some “hiccups” in efforts to build an indigenous aerial defence missile system like the Akash and Trishul, Mr Krishnaswamy said the problems were temporary. The IAF as an interim measure could import limited numbers of surface-to-air missiles besides upgrading the existing Russian Pechora Missiles, he said.

In the course of a 90-minute press briefing, the air chief said two of the six IL-78 refuellers had arrived from Uzbekistan and had been made operational. The rest would be introduced by the end of the year. He said the Su-30MKI and the long range Jaguar strike aircraft had been fitted with mid-air refuelling technology, while work was on to procure refuelling nozzles for the French Mirage 2000. “We have already conducted exercises with refuellers between Pune and Car Nicobar and the deployment capability had been proven, the aircraft remaining in the air for over ten hours,” Mr Krishnaswamy said.

He said two squadrons of the upgraded Mi-21 Bisons had become operational in the frontier Punjab province and a third was going through final flying and training tests in Ozar in Nasik, Maharashtra. The air chief said three more Bison squadrons would be operational by March next year and, for the first time, would take part in this year’s Air Force Day flypast.

Asserting that the IAF had started a major modernisation drive, Mr Krishnaswamy said final approval had been given for the acquisition of 17 kinds of simulators for the IAF, including simulators for fighters like the Mig-27, Jaguar and the Mirage 2000. Dwelling on defence aviation, the air chief stressed that as a cost effective measure, India would soon have to enter into strategic alliances to build fifth-generation fighters and transport aircraft. He said for this the country would have to go in for disinvestment in defence aviation and the export of armament systems to friendly countries “in a big way”. The air chief did not foresee any increase on the 66 Hawk trainers being imported.


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