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Defence industry should work on directed energy, hypersonic weapons: IAF Chief

Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari.

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian defence industry needs to work on advanced directed energy and hypersonic weapons, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari said on Tuesday and stressed that it is time for the IAF to become an "aerospace force".

Giving the inaugural address at the 'PHDCCI DEF X TECH INDIA 2023', he also emphasised adopting future technologies and said wars in the future will be fought on land, air and sea as well as in space.

The weapons of the country, when it completes 100 years of Independence, will be different, the IAF Chief said and added that weapons such as directed energy and hypersonic weapons have already been "tested and employed" by other nations.

"The weapons of India at 100 would look very different from weapons of India at 75. Directed energy weapons (DEWs) and hypersonic weapons have already been tested and employed.

DEWs, particularly lasers, provide significant advantages over traditional weapons such as precision engagement, low-cost per shot, logistical benefits and low detectability," he said.

"Our defence industries need to further the development of these weapons and also integrate them onto airborne platforms to get desired ranges and accuracy," the IAF Chief said.

DEWs are a ranged weapon that damages its target with highly focused energy without a solid projectile, including lasers, microwaves, particle beams and sound beams. Hypersonic weapons are weapons capable of travelling at hypersonic speed, defined as between five and 25 times the speed of sound.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari also stressed on the need to develop India's aerospace power.

The Defence Minister has "categorically stated that it is now time for the Indian Air Force to become an aerospace force and be ready to protect the country from ever evolving threats," the IAF Chief said.

He said a democratisation process is being witnessed in space technologies with the entry of the private sector. "The endeavour is to dramatically reduce costs of developing, launching and operating spacecraft for applications... Civilian space travel, a dream 25 years ago, is today a reality," Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said.

"The race to weaponise space has already started and the day is not far when our next war could be spread across all domains of land, air, sea and space. Therefore, I feel there is a need to develop both offensive and defensive space capabilities to safeguard our assets," he said.

The IAF Chief said there is a need to "capitalise on our initial successes in space and prepare ourselves for the future".

He called upon the Indian aerospace industry along with other players such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Space Agency (DSA) to collaborate for the future and added that private companies are being encouraged in this domain.

The IAF Chief said while the "military effect" of space technology on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is quite unclear, it is pertinent that "we develop such technology in-house with these developments".

"However, we must be cognisant of the technology to be within the contours of national policy, security and objectives," he said.

In this digital age, in which knowledge is a central resource, societal and economic considerations of a State usually determine how wars are waged, the IAF chief said.

"Glimpses of these are quite evident in the ongoing conflict in Europe. Over the years, the Indian Air Force has proved its capacity across the entire spectrum of conflict, ranging from peace, no war no peace and conflict situations," he said.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said the IAF is on a path of transformation so that it can fight and win tomorrow's wars. "We are in the process of acquiring and operationalising cutting-edge systems... At the same time, the task of upgrading the existing fleet of aircraft, weapons and other combat systems continues unabated," he said.

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