Nurturing a Dynamic Defspace Ecosystem for India

Sub Title : Report: Indian DefSpace Symposium

Issues Details : Vol 17 Issue 2 May – Jun 2023

Author : Editorial Team

Page No. : 57

Category : Military Technology

: May 27, 2023

The Indian Space Symposium was organised by the Indian Space Association, an apex, non-profit industry body, which is exclusively working towards the successful exploration, collaboration, and development of the private and public Space Industry in India. The symposium provided an excellent opportunity for experts in the field of defence space to exchange ideas and discuss latest developments

The Indian Space Symposium is the first of its kind event focused on creating a platform for all stakeholders who have a keen interest in boosting India’s military space capability and plans. The platform brought together experts from multiple domains to discuss the latest trends and challenges in the field of defence, making it an excellent networking opportunity for attendees from defence, DRDO, and government sectors, as well as industry professionals. It focussed on delivering space domain awareness and satellite communications to enhance military operations and addressed issues related to securing funding for new space capabilities, expanding international partnerships, and developing a ‘Defence Space Strategy’ in line with the ‘National Space Strategy’.

The Indian DefSpace Symposium 2023 was organised by the Indian Space Association (ISpA) from 11th to 13th April 2023 at the USI Auditorium in New Delhi. The symposium aimed to provide a platform for experts and leaders in the field of defence space to exchange ideas and discuss the latest developments in the industry. In an effort to boost the collaboration between the Indian space and defence sectors, Indian Space Association (ISpA) organised the ‘Indian DefSpace Symposium 2023’ in association with DRDO. The CDS Gen. Anil Chauhan emphasised on the need for developing dual-use platforms with special focus on incorporating cutting-edge technologies. The DRDO Chairman called upon the industry to work closely with the academia, startups, MSMEs and the lead integrators in the country.

The inaugural event was graced by the chief guest Gen. Anil Chauhan, Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces; Guest of HonorDr. Samir V Kamat, Secretary-DDR&D and Chairman, DRDO; Air Vice Marshal DV Khot, DG DSA, HQ IDS; Air Marshal BR Krishna (Retd), former-CISC and various other dignitaries from across the ministries, defence and space industry. Speaking on the occasion, Lt Gen AK Bhatt (retd), Director General, Indian Space Association, said, “The symposium will pave the way forward of how we leverage international space cooperation and also the policy and strategy for building an overall comprehensive difference space strategy. I would like to thank to the Chief of Defence Staff and Chairman DRDO for gracing the occasion. Their presence underlines the importance of this growing domain of warfare where I assure you that the Indian Industry is ready to contribute and play its part in this national endeavor.”

Addressing the conference, the Chief Guest, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan said, “Today’s symposium will assist all of us to center our national security, while identifying possible solutions to address future challenges. The aim for all of us should be towards developing dual-use platforms with special focus towards incorporating cutting-edge technologies. We must expand our NAVIC constellation, provide agile space-based ISR and ensure secure satellite assisted communications. We also need to explore the field of miniaturisation of satellites and reusable launch platforms to mitigate cost, challenges and accelerate the pace of augmenting our space-based capabilities. The populating of space domain and the emergence of dynamic threat environment to our space assets also demands that we enhance our space situational awareness capability. There’s also a requirement to safeguard our assets with counter space capabilities. We must build resilience and redundancy in a space-based infrastructure.” Dr Samir V Kamat said “We at DRDO have started increasing our focus on the very critical space domain with emphasis on space-based surveillance, space situational awareness and protecting our space-based assets. We are now looking at working closely with industry as well as academia right from the development stage and have started DRDO industry-academia centers of excellence in about 15 institutions, mostly within the country. We request academia, startups, MSMEs and larger companies to work with us closely so we can help our country achieve these capabilities much faster than what we have been able to do for all other systems.”

The event also organized a session with experts from the defence and technology sectors which analysed China’s military capabilities, including its space-based assets, and how they are affecting the balance of power in the region.

Plenary Session:

The Plenary Session comprised several presentations and discussions by experts in the field of defence space. Wg Cdr Satyam Kushwaha (retd), Director ISpA, gave a brief on 75 DefSpace Challenges which was launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister in October 2022. Dr Narayan Prasad, Director (Research & Operations), Spaceport SARABHAI, spoke about the overview of key technology disruptions impacting DefSpace. He highlighted how new technologies, such as edge computing, inflatable ground stations, and real-time analytics, can significantly improve the current status of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) or aid in operations. Air Vice Marshal Anil Golani (Retd), Additional Director General, CAPS, gave a presentation on Emerging Space Power & Usage/Impacts in Recent Conflicts. He discussed the latest advancements in space technology, including the development of new space weapons and the use of space-based assets for intelligence and communication purposes. He also analyzed case studies from conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and the South China Sea. Dr Ranjana Kaul, Partner, Dua Associates, presented on Legal and Policy aspects linked to the Utilization of Outer Space. She provided an overview of the international space law treaties negotiated between 1957-1979, and how they govern all activities in outer space. GpCapt (Dr) Ajay Lele (retd), Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, gave a presentation on the Institutional evolution and modernization of defence space structure & establishments from a space perspective. He provided an overview of countries that have created dedicated institutions to tackle space-related use for the military, such as the US, France, and Japan.

Assessing Capabilities in India’s Neighborhood

The post-lunch session on day one of the conference was focused on the mapping and impact analysis of neighbourhood capabilities, with a special focus on China. The session brought together experts from the defence and technology sectors to discuss China’s military capabilities, including its space-based assets, and how they were affecting the balance of power in the region. The experts also examined the strategies and capabilities of China’s neighbouring countries and how they responded to the changing geopolitical landscape.

The session featured several speakers, including Lt Gen (Dr) S L Narasimhan (Retd) PVSM AVSM* VSM, who is a member of the National Security Advisory Board, India and Director General, Centre for Contemporary China Studies. Prof Chandrashekar from NIAS critically assessed China’s vulnerabilities and examined the role of space assets in addressing them, with a focus on ISR capabilities during the Taiwan crisis as a case study, and other assets in A2AD. He also explored space power, relative positions, and the relationship between Space and CNP (Comprehensive National Power).

Brigadier Anshuman Narang analysed China’s desired capabilities in the futuristic CPC’s defined timelines of 2049, 2035 & 2027 or the 14th Five-Year Plan. He highlighted the widening regional capabilities gap due to the China’s race with the US, mapped PLA’s space and counter-space infrastructure by analyzing PLA SSF’s capabilities and support from strategic to tactical levels. He also quantified the current capabilities and highlighted the implications. He also elucidated President Xi’s mandated Civil-Military Fusion to advance BRI’s Space Corridor as well as resultant collusivity with Pakistan, and discussed the Chinese strategy for ‘Full Spectrum Integrated Strategic Deterrence’, with a focus on the role of space deterrence and PLA’s exploitation of the space domain in Grey Zone warfare. Finally, Dr Rajeshwari Pillai, the Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy, and Technology (CSST), Observer Research Foundation, shared her insights on the topic, providing further analysis and recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in the defence and technology sectors.

Nurturing a dynamic Defspace Ecosystem for India

The second day of the Indian DefSpace Symposium 2023 began with a session on ‘Nurturing a dynamic Defspace Ecosystem for India’. Panel discussion #1 discussed the role of various organizations, including ISRO, INSPACe, MoD, DRDO, HQ IDS, DSA, iDEX, Industry and Academia, in developing the Defence Space Research and Development Ecosystem. The panel was chaired by Lt Gen VG Khandare PVSM AVSM SM (Retd) and moderated by Dr PVGS Jayaram, CEO & Advisor Technology, PVGS Consultants.

The second-panel discussion was chaired by Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, PVSM AVSM VM ADC (retd), Former Chief of The Air Staff, and moderated by Mr Laxmesh BH, Vice President & Head- Missiles and Aerospace Business Head – Precision Manufacturing & Systems Complex L&T. The topic of discussion was Defence Space Procurement Mechanisms for Industry.

The third-panel discussion on Refining/Improving R&D, IPR & Funding climate for Industry and Academia was chaired by Air Marshal (Dr) Rajeev Sachdeva AVSM, PhD (retd), Former DCIDS, HQ IDS, and moderated by Major General AK Channan, PVSM SM(retd). The second session of the day, Disruptions in DefSpace: An emerging Force Multiplier, began with Panel Discussion #1 on Persistent & Precision ISR for targeting & decision support: Reimagining OODA loop, chaired by Air Marshal Sandeep Singh PVSM, AVSM, VM (retd) and moderated by Mr Kris Nair, Founder, KawaSpace.

Industry Workshops and Snapshot of Capabilities

The third day of the Symposium featured industry workshops presented by ISpA Members. Azista-BST Aerospace presented its infrastructure and manufacturing facilities and capabilities and Case Studies of Satellites usage for tri-services applications. Kawa Space presented its Live Software Demo with Critical Infrastructure for Defence Space to Defence Services. Elena Geo Systems presented the NavIC capabilities, proliferation and the role, importance and Necessity of Position, Navigation and Timing in the Security of the Nation.

Valedictory Session

The Valedictory Session saw presence of eminent dignitaries: Gen Anil Chauhan, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces; Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff; Dr Samir V Kamat, Chairman DRDO; Shri AS Kiran Kumar, Former Secretary DoS & Chairman ISRO; Lt Gen Tarun Kumar Aich AVSM, DCOAS (Strat); Vice Admiral S N Ghormade, PVSM, AVSM, NM, ADC (retd), former Vice Chief of Naval Staff; Air Marshal SBP Sinha, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC (retd) DRDO Chair (Prof MGK Menon Chair); Air Vice Marshal DV Khot, AVSM, VM, DG DSA, HQ IDS; Mr PJ Nath, Managing Director & CEO, NELCO

Thought Leaders Group composed of eminent and accomplished domain experts from Defence and Space: Air Marshal M. Matheswaran (retd), AVSM, VM, PhD, former DCIDS; Air Marshal SS Soman, PVSM, AVSM, VM (retd), Former AOC-in-C, WAC IAF; Air Marshal SBP Sinha PVSM AVSM VM ADC (retd), DRDO CHAIR (Prof MGK Menon Chair) & Former AOC-in-C, CAC IAF; Lt Gen Vinod G Khandare, PVSM, AVSM, SM (retd), Principal Advisor, MoD; Former Military Advisor, NSCS; & Former DG DIA, HQ IDS; Air Marshal BR Krishna, PVSM, AVSM, SC (retd), former CISC, Vice Admiral S N Ghormade PVSM, AVSM, NM, ADC (retd), former Vice Chief of the Naval Staff; Dr PVGS Jayaram MIE, CEO and Advisor Technology, PVGS Consultants: (Coordinator); Wing Commander Satyam Kushwaha (retd), Director, ISpA: (Convenor) and led by Dr AS Kiran Kumar, Former Secretary Dept of Space & Chairman, ISRO, deliberated in closed-door sessions and made critical recommendations for DefSpace Industry, Defence Services and ISpA.

During the valedictory session, ISpA exchanged MoUs with DRDO, the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) and the Association of Geospatial Industries (AGI) in the presence of the Chief of Defence Staff and DRDO Chairman.

As part of NavIC proliferation, Lt Col V S Velan (Retd) presented the indigenously designed NavIC chip that can use India’s navigation satellite system to provide positioning services to the CDS and DRDO Chairman.

The Indian DefSpace Symposium 2023 provided an excellent opportunity for experts in the field of defence space to exchange ideas and discuss the latest developments. The event was a success, with several informative presentations and discussions. The symposium highlighted the importance of the space sector for defence purposes and the need for continued innovation and development in the field. The 3-day event had 14 sessions with 75+ eminent speakers with more than 800 attendees from various govt ministries, departments and armed forces, defence services, industry professionals and students who were interested in learning more about India’s space’s military space capability and plans.


At the end of the 3 day Seminar, important takeaways in the form of recommendations for various stakeholders are as follows:-

Recommendations for Defspace Industry

    Credibility of industry is extremely crucial in DefSpace sector in terms of quality, timelines, capacity, capability  and reliability. Therefore be realistic in projecting performance and timelines,

    Form partnerships / JVs / Consortiums to provide a package of assets and/or services,

    Collaborate with ISRO & DRDO for complex design issues.

Recommendations for Services

    Clarify requirements to DefSpace industry with specific timelines. Also be specific when asking for sensors, resolution, swath, area, revisit-time, communication, ESM sensors etc,

    Provide requirements for ownership of assets/leasing /services,

    Indigenous requirements for SSA in addition to global partnerships,

    Highlight capabilities needed to defend own space assets and prevent denial of services,

    Emphasize on need for retention of 28 GHz comn spectrum.

Recommendations for MoD & HQ IDS

    Seek inclusion of Armed Forces representation in the Space Commission,

    Seek release from National Research Fund specifically for R&D in DefSpace sector,

    Seek membership for DSA in the proposed Geospatial Body for the country.

Action Points for ISPA and HQ IDS

    Formulate separate procurement procedures specifically for DefSpace sector to facilitate R&D, and procurement of assets. Unlike routine defence procurements, the DefSpace sector largely constitutes of start-ups & innovators who require hand-holding,

    Procedures to include facilitation of trial facilities either free of cost or at subsidised rate,

    There is a need for clearer definition of performance requirements in the DefSpace sector.

Action Points for ISPA

Coordinate with all DefSpace R&D agencies to derive maximum benefits

    Coordinate with all concerned agencies to bring out Standards for the DefSpace sector