The Indian Air Force (IAF) is undergoing a significant transformation as it seeks to become the Indian Air and Space Force (IASF) and expand its capabilities in the aerospace domain.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to become the Indian Air and Space Force (IASF). 

In line with this transformation, the IAF is intensifying its efforts to fully exploit the potential of space, moving beyond its current focus on intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, communication, and navigation capabilities.

The IAF envisions India having over 100 military satellites, both large and small, within the next seven to eight years, with active participation from the private sector. Additionally, the Defence Space Agency, established in 2019, is set to evolve into a fully-fledged Space Command.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari in recent months has also repeatedly stressed the need for India to develop both defensive and offensive capabilities in the space domain by building on the success of 'Mission Shakti' in March 2019. DRDO had then tested an anti-satellite (A-Sat) interceptor missile to destroy the 740-kg Microsat-R satellite at an altitude of 283-km in low earth orbit.

"Near space, at an altitude from 20 to 100 km, and outer space will be the ultimate high-ground in the battles of the future. Advanced winged bodies are being built to operate seamlessly between air and space. India has to be prepared for all this," the source said.

China, of course, is rapidly developing and deploying A-Sat weapons from "Kinetic" ones like direct ascent missiles and co-orbital killers to "non-kinetic" high-powered lasers, electromagnetic pulse weapons, jammers and cyberweapons, as was earlier reported by TOI.

If China has the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force for the space domain, the US created a full-fledged Space Force (USSF) as a distinct branch of its armed forces in 2019. Several other countries like the UK, Japan, France and Russia also have space commands or wings in their air forces.

Consequently, IAF has no option but to gradually transcend from existing OCA (offensive counter air) and DCA (defensive counter-air) air-superiority missions to OCS and DCS operations also in the future.

Eventually, IAF's existing fully-automated air defence network called integrated air command and control system (IACCS) will also have to evolve into IASCCS. Space will have to be harnessed for the battlespace of the future.

To keep pace with global developments, the IAF is gradually expanding its mission scope from offensive and defensive counter-air operations to operations in the space domain. As part of this transition, the existing integrated air command and control system (IACCS) will evolve into the integrated air and space command and control system (IASCCS).

Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, and Russia already have space commands or wings within their air forces. As a result, the IAF recognizes the necessity of harnessing space for future battlespaces.

The IAF's transformation into the Indian Air and Space Force marks a significant step towards becoming a credible aerospace power. By embracing the potential of space and collaborating with strategic partners, the IAF aims to ensure India's preparedness for future challenges in the air and space domains.

The IAF has the following plans to transform into a space superpower:

Military Satellites

The IAF plans to have over 100 military satellites in the next seven to eight years. The private sector will be actively involved in this.

Space Command

The Defence Space Agency, established in 2019, will evolve into a fully-fledged Space Command.

Space Vision 2047

The IAF has formulated a new doctrine that focuses on the "air and space continuum". The IAF believes that space is a critical enabler for aerospace power. They also believe that future wars might be decided on space.