India calls for development of military space command to counter China

June 19, 2008 - 0:0

NEW DELHI ( — India’s army chief said his country needs a military space program because its satellites are vulnerable to attack from countries like China, which shot down a disabled weather satellite last year.

Gen. Deepak Kapoor’s comments highlight the military’s growing concern that China, India’s giant neighbor to the north, poses a threat to India as it expands its power and influence in the region.
The Indian Express newspaper quoted Kapoor, speaking Monday at a local conference on using space for military purposes, as saying that India urgently needed to “optimize space applications for military purposes.” He pointed out that “the Chinese space program is expanding at an exponentially rapid pace in both offensive and defensive content.”
Defense Ministry spokesman Praveen Kavi confirmed the comments Tuesday.
Ties between India and China -- which together account for about a third of the world’s population -- are at their closest since China defeated India in a brief 1962 border war. Last year, trade between the two sides grew to $37 billion and their armies conducted their first-ever joint military exercise.
Nevertheless, the Indian military, alarmed by China’s growing influence and heavy military spending, has been increasingly gearing up for a possible conflict.
India has announced plans to have a fleet of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines at sea within the next decade and recently tested nuclear-capable missiles that put China’s major cities well in range. It is also reopening air force bases near the Chinese border.
Last January, China destroyed a defunct Chinese weather satellite by hitting it with a warhead on a ballistic missile. It made China only the third country after Russia and the United States to shoot down anything in space.
China insists it is committed to the peaceful use of space.