The central government should develop intergovernmental collaborative frameworks and enable policies to strengthen private participation in the space defence domain, a report by global consultancy firm PwC says.

The “Space for Defence in India” report, released last week, says a clear R&D strategy and sources of investment will aid private industry to fully tap the potential of the sector. “Key operational actions through re-organised operating models and collaborative frameworks with industry bodies are critical to allow free flow of space technologies across the military and civilian domains for both space for defence and defence of space. The government can look into the possibilities of establishing a dedicated space command and a futuristic space station for military and civilian research and application purposes,” the report says.

It identifies intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), communication, infrastructure, space situational awareness (SSI), miniaturisation and countermeasures as the key areas that India should focus on in space defence.

In the areas of ISR, technologies like imagery data fusion and onboard image processing, remote sensing and navigation, improved pointing ability etc, have been identified as India’s strengths. In the communication segment, high-bandwidth jam-resistant communication links, interoperable multi-band TTC ground stations, and tactical data relay satellite mechanisms are among the areas highlighted.

The report also highlights India’s infrastructure capabilities like ground infrastructure to support automation and launch facilities.

According to the report, the key challenges India faces in integrating the country’s space ecosystem with defence include the existing defence procurement procedures. Terming the existing procedures as complex and lowest cost (L1) dependent, it argues that this does not allow the defence forces to quickly harness and adopt cutting-edge space technologies offered by private and other institutions. The report called for the passage of the Space Activities Bill to promote private sector investment and finalisation of the National Space Strategy at the earliest. A National Defence Space Strategy with a whole-of-nation approach will leverage space for defence, it said.

The report points out that globally, modern warfare includes establishment of virtual command centres. “The demand for satellite applications is expected to reach $7 billion by 2031, accelerating at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.67 % between 2021-2031, it said.

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