Indian Air Force Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Tuesday urged the domestic defence industry to develop next generation ‘directed-energy weapons and hypersonic weapons’, tested and employed by other nations, even as he insisted that the future war would spread across all domains of land, sea, air, cyber and space.

Addressing the Def Tech 2023 on “India’s Aerospace Capabilities And Technology Requirements”, the IAF chief stated “the weapons of India @100 would look very different from weapons of India @ 75”. He went into flashback to demonstrate the capability difference due to technological enhancements over a gap of 25 years, from 1998 to now.

“Directed-energy weapons 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 stated.

The indigenous defence industries, as per the IAF chief, need to further develop these weapons and also integrate them onto airborne platforms to get desired ranges and accuracy.

Developing space capabilities

Chief Marshal Chaudhari agreed with defence minister Rajnath Singh’s call to transform the Air Force into Aerospace Force and stated that the race to weaponise space has already started and the day is not far when India’s next war would spread across all domains of land, sea, air, cyber and space. “..I feel there is a need to develop both offensive and defensive space capabilities to safe guard our assets. We need to capitalize on our initial successes in space and prepare ourselves for the future,” the Chief of Air Staff told the gathering.

Maroof Raza, MD Vision Initiatives Pvt Ltd, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Saket Dalmia, senior officers from the Armed Forces and private industry representative were present at the event. He emphasised that with these developments, we can now envision indigenous space technology capabilities and affordable access to space for a range of applications in the near future. But, the technology has to be within the contours of national policy, security and objectives, Chaudhari said.

According to the IAF chief, the Atmanirbharta in defence sector should go beyond production to encompass evolving home-grown design and development of capabilities utilizing the Indian defence industry, start-ups, MSMEs and academia to create a self-sustaining defence R&D ecosystem. “In my opinion, the key to faster development of niche technology is to identify core areas of development, clearly articulate requirements and closely interact with the industry to design and develop the technology,” he insisted.

Chaudhari also advocated that well established defence manufacturing public sector enterprises must hand-hold and get the developed technology into the market for mass production. Unless all stake holders come together, I am afraid, we will continue to wallow in the dark and not see tangible progress, he pointed out.