Wednesday, October 4, 2023

From Space Wargame, Premier Exhibition To Industry Insights, DefSat 2023, Had It All!

By Staff Correspondent

The Satcom Association of India (SIA-India) recently achieved a significant milestone in the Indian space industry by completing a closed-door “Industrial Space Wargame.” This exercise included the participation of representatives from various sectors. From the domestic space industry, renowned government organisations such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) joined in. Representatives from the tri-services were in attendance as well.

The wargame was also supported by preeminent think tanks such as the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), Centre for Land Warfare Studies, Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), and National Maritime Foundation (NMF). The session was designed to simulate real space war situations, testing the capabilities of the Indian space industry and organisation to respond to contingency or crisis situations.

Led by Lieutenant General VG Khandare (r), Principle Advisor, Ministry of Defence (MoD), and convener Lt Gen. PJS Pannu (r), former Deputy Chief, Integrated Defence Staff (Operations) and Chair of the Aerospace and Defense Committee, SIA-India, the interactive tabletop exercise assessed various factors such as resources, logistics, sequence of action, and the time required for each phase of the plan to take effect.

Defence practitioners and industry stakeholders collaborated to evaluate the necessary industrialised solutions, disruptive innovations, and technological discoveries in Space and counter-space capabilities required to safeguard India’s national security interests in simulated scenarios.

This wargame was part of the larger, first-of-its-kind DefSat Conference and Expo held between 27th to 29th April 2023. SIA-India organised the three-day event at the Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantonment. Its objective was to unite key stakeholders and leaders to discuss, debate, and present the latest developments and innovations in the satellite industry, exploring collaboration opportunities and partnerships.

India’s commitment to developing its space enterprise and its determination to safeguard its national security interests in the great global common is evident in the success of this exercise and the participation of key players from various sectors. This event has set the stage for future wargames and similar exercises that can help India further solidify its position as a leading player in the global space industry.

Roadmap, Tech For Capacity Building In Space

Space capabilities and strategic self-reliance were the hot topics at DefSat 2023. With the global race to outer Space heating up, industry leaders and experts discussed the need for India to focus on this domain and fill any capability gaps. “One who controls space, controls space battles and the 21st century” was the operating philosophy behind the discussions.

In the thematic address on the second day, Lt Gen. PJS Pannu (r) highlighted the potential of private space players in providing swift solutions. He stressed that the future of wars and peaceful economic growth depends on space capabilities and that India must define its space philosophy, doctrine, and strategy to create a roadmap for the industry.

ISRO Chairman Dr S Somanath emphasised expanding space launch capabilities, increasing application capabilities, and improving usability across the space sector. To maximise the benefits of the space sector, artificial intelligence (AI), drone technologies, and quantum communication capabilities must be integrated with Space.

Nuances Of Indigenisation

Building self-reliance in the space sector requires years of struggle, and India must be ready to accommodate future technology requirements and the resources to build and operate them. Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri, indicated that India must be clear about what needs to be developed within the country and what needs to be sourced from outside. This can be achieved by collaborating with existing institutes and developing new ones to build future-ready, skilled and capable resources.

Commercial Potential In The Arena

Dr Subbarao Pavuluri, Chairman and Managing Director of Ananth Technologies and President SIA-India, stated that India is entering the commercial Space and satellite communication era and enhancing its global digital footprint. There is no dearth of opportunities in this arena. He said the emergence of the commercial space sector and startups present attractive possibilities for the country’s defence requirements.

Air Vice Marshal DV Khot, Director-General, Defence Space Agency (DSA), suggested that military capabilities can be significantly improved by combining Space and ground-based assets, providing services with a clear advantage in any conflict. To achieve this, industry partners must work closely to identify new technologies and capabilities to meet the military’s unique needs. Collaborating with international partners to leverage their expertise and knowledge is also essential.

ISR, IPB In Focus

In addition to discussing the importance of space capabilities, experts also emphasised the critical role of advanced Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in Space for enhancing the effectiveness of military forces in critical battlefield situations. Utilising modern technologies such as satellite imagery, radar, and signals intelligence to scrutinise the environment and detect potential threats is crucial to achieving this goal.

Brigadier Anshuman Narang, an author and ISR domain expert, highlighted the unmatched capabilities of Space for Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB), the most advanced COP, and the Indian CNP’s backbone across DIME at DefSat. He stressed the importance of data and the interconnectedness of interoperability and policy aspects for the end-user of the data.

SIA-India brought together a panel of luminaries discussing advanced ISR capabilities

Colonel ADS Herr, Col Strategic Planning (Space), spoke at length about the ISR capabilities and what capability development is required to meet the unique needs of the armed forces.

Tobby Simons, Founder and President of the Synergia Foundation, added to the discussion, emphasising that human intelligence (HUMINT) should never be removed from the battlefield. He suggested that the military focus on democratising decisions and moving onto the battlefield of the virtual cloud.

Space Diplomacy In Potential Global Conflicts

The global significance of Space in potential conflicts is expected to increase as nations become more dependent on space-based resources. Therefore, regulating the military usage of such resources through space diplomacy has become crucial.

DefSat 2023 highlighted the significance of cooperation initiatives such as commercial trade, shared use of space-based resources, and combined research and development to establish mutual trust and transparency and reduce misunderstandings.

Dr PK Jain, Director – Program Management and Authorisation (PMAD), IN-SPACe, discussed how space diplomacy provides access to global tech and funds, emphasising the industry’s participation to take ISRO’s work to the next level.

DefSat 2023: Highlights

Our correspondents highlight some of the most significant moments from the event. The exhibition at RXL was a sight to behold, featuring some of the most cutting-edge technology companies in the industry. The Comsat Systems Private Limited stall, in particular, drew considerable attention from high-profile individuals and industry stakeholders. Their products were described as a “gold mine!” and were the subject of many conversations throughout the event.

One of the most significant highlights of day two was the focus on “Space security – Philosophy, Doctrines & Strategies; connecting requirements & industrial capabilities,” chaired and moderated by Lt Gen. VG Khandare (r), emphasised the tri-services need the best to stay ahead, and that there are “no runners up in war!”

The round-table conference that followed featured some of the best and brightest minds from the Armed Forces, focusing on civil-military integration. Premier think tanks, including CLAWS (Army), NMF (Navy), and CAPS (IAF), and CENJOWS (Tri-Services) were well represented on the panel. They collectively shared a wealth of wisdom with the key stakeholders present at the event and brought much-needed synergy and added insights to the conversation.

The Special Address by Dr Subbarao Pavuluri, Dr Ranjana N, and Dr Anupam Sharma of DRDO were other key moments from the mega-event. Other highlights included Civil-Military Fusion: Catalysing the industrial base and overcoming supply chain challenges, moderated by Chaitanya Giri, Associate Professor at FLAME University and Space Diplomacy Consultant at RIS. Secure Satcom and integration with Internet of Battle Thing (IoBT)/ Internet of Military Thing (IoMT) systems, moderated by Major General Sanjiv Sharma, Additional Directorate General (ADG) Tac C, Director General (DG), Signals, was another critical discussion.

The takeaways of the event and the way ahead were succinctly summarised by Lt Gen. Pannu (r), paving the way ahead. With the event’s success, it is clear that the SIA-India commitment to developing India’s space industry and safeguarding national security interests in space is unwavering.


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