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Indian Air Force to launch its satellite in 2009

Air Chief Marshal F H Major. File photo

PUNE (PTI): The first Indian Air Force (IAF) controlled satellite, aimed at gathering navigational information, will be put into space in July 2009, Air Chief Marshal F H Major has said.

Describing the proposed satellite as the “IAF eye in the skies”, the Air chief said here on Tuesday that it would basically be used to collect navigational information which would help IAF positioning.

The IAF chief, who was interacting with reporters on the sidelines of a University of Pune function, said similar satellites of almost all major countries are already operating to collect necessary data.

Earlier, the Air Chief Marshal, who delivered the annual Gen B C Joshi memorial lecture at the university, said, "Our plans for future expansion have made it inevitable that we would have to utilise the realm of space."

"While I am not a die-hard proponent of weaponisation of space, I am convinced that harnessing the capabilities that space provides, creates a force multiplier effect and increases effectiveness of our operations manifold."

Noting that India has a well-developed Space programme, he said it was his intention to harness the capability that space based assets provide and put in place structures and mechanisms to exploit enhanced capability.

The IAF was in the process of a very comprehensive and focused modernisation programme, he said ,adding, the Air Force is at varying stages of the induction of a wide range of equipment including all types of aircraft, weapons, missiles, sensors and communication equipment.

"We are even upgrading our airfield infrastructure, laboratories and other facilities on an immense scale and in a systematic and methodical manner."

"It is clear that in order to maintain stability and equilibrium in our neighbourhood, it is essential for India to possess a strong military force. I am not for a moment advocating any kind of aggressive tendencies. But a serious study of balance of power equations among states makes it amply clear that only credible deterrence can be an effective stabiliser,’’ he asserted.

Analysing India's neighbourhood environment in this context, he said to the West and North-West of us, Iraq and Afghanistan continue to simmer with ongoing conflicts. The Central Asian states remain turbulent with increasing instability as they come to terms with the decline of erstwhile USSR and the emergence of a new Russia.

Pakistan and Nepal with newly installed democratic governments remain a source of concern for all of us. China plays a strategic game and seeks to be a regional power, competing with India in every sphere, he said.

Referring to the nuclear dimension, the Air Chief Marshal said it was the most visible and important factor and the fact that our neighbourhood has nuclear capability and long range delivery platforms, introduces a very dynamic variable in our relations.

When asked where India stood as regards to its role as a regional power vis-a-vis that of China, the Air Chief replied, "We are doing pretty well."

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