India’s anti-satellite missile test on March 27 came at a time when its ties with Pakistan were at a new low

India’s anti-satellite missile test on March 27 came at a time when its ties with Pakistan were at a new low. It underlined a new intent vis-a-vis China, whose military satellites act as Pakistan’s eyes in the skies and have the potential to blind India in case of a two-front war. It also shows India has realised that weaponisation of space will become a reality and defence of space assets must be prioritised. While such technology adds deterrent value, it also proves India has effectively combined its space and missile programs in preparedness for future battle scenarios. In fact, the A-SAT closely replicated an US Intercontinental Missile Defence Test at Vandenberg on March 25, hinting that the Indian anti-missile defence shield technology could be as advanced.

Future battle scenarios are less likely to see conventional mass infantry engagements at international borders. Smarter and deadlier missiles with high ranges deny any strategic depth to nations. The co-development of Indo-Russian BrahMos, Agni-5 and Agni-6 series, the acquisition of S-400 Triumf air defence system and the Rafale, with the rapidly refining Indian ground-to-air missile matrix, have enhanced deniability and defence. But it’s ISRO’s new genre of sophisticated RISAT and advanced CARTOSAT-3 series of military satellites that lend muscle to India’s early warning systems of the movements of Chinese and Pakistani military.

The RISAT was used by the IAF to vector and strafe Balakot, and the new satellites significantly reduce error probability. The RISAT2B with X-band syncretic aperture radar—that can look through clouds—enhances precision, which the Mirages were denied at Balakot, while the CARTOSAT-3 would enhance resolution up to 20 cm, thus pinpointing hostile launch pads. With the next genre of multi-spectral, multi resolution imaging satellite to be launched in November, India’s military would be able to scan potential battlefields long before the battle is actually fought.