Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan has urged the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to deeply engage with the Indian startup community in partnership with Indian space industry to develop cutting edge solutions which would help reduce the country's technology gaps vis-à-vis adversaries.

Stating that space is already established as the new domain of warfare, General Chauhan hoped that the day is not far when India will become a net provider for such services to other nations. "Space diplomacy will soon become a reality," he says while addressing the second edition of Indian Defspace Symposium organised by Indian Space Association in Delhi on April 18.

"The defence services and the ministry of defence need to work closely with the Indian space industry to identify the facilities which would be needed for testing, validating, and certifying the products. There is a need to develop and update our requisite doctrines to ensure that space and cyber elements are deeply integrated at strategic, operational and tactical level. We also need to ensure interoperability with the current and future equipment," he says.

According to General Chauhan, capacity building in terms of both subject matter experts and advisors as well as making a technology competent workforce will need the highest priority to prepare India to undertake the transformation based on the space based solutions presently under development.

"We have a number of promising startups who are doing some excellent work in the field of defence space including space launch which was unimaginable some years ago. There is enough space for everyone to grow," he says.

Speaking on the occasion, Samir V Kamat, chairman of DRDO, says the government’s premier research institution is willing to work with startups and industry and also fund R&D in defence space sector. “We also have a mechanism called technology development fund (TDF), where we can fund upto Rs 50 crores if there are any good projects," he says.

“India has a robust civilian space programme. It is the right time we exploit the capabilities that we have built over the years for our civilian space programme to leapfrog and acquire technologies which will enable our (defence) services to be cutting edge," Kamat says.

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