India develops an ASAT – Is it a Geopolitical Game-changer?

The Anti Satellite missile capability has been demonstrated by India as a deterrent in an event of a space war where space may be the theater of action with countries seeking to down enemy satellites as explained by experts.

Ajay Lele, Senior fellow with the Institute of Defence Studies Analyses (IDSA) said, “The message goes loud & clear that if any of our satellites are harmed, we possess the capability of destroying yours (Adversary)”.

The former Air Force officer & other experts said that India had possess the anti missile technology for several years but it needed the political go ahead to test it in live conditions. They said that DRDO had received the go ahead to prepare for the test 2 years ago which finally was completed in time.

Daniel Porras, Space Security Fellow, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) said that the tests have destroyed a satellite at an altitude of 300 Kms. It is not a good sign for LEO (Low Earth Orbit) which has telecommunication & earth observation satellites and also the ISS (International Space station) which cruises at a height of 400 Kms. Also the tests were done pretty low @ 300 Kms which will ensure debris will come down. Also if any of the debris damages other objects, India will be liable under liability convention, he tweeted.

According to former ISRO chairperson G Madhavan Nair, “Marrying the two technologies of ISRO & DRDO was required which happened over the last few years”.

He also said that it would have taken two years for scientists to perfect the missile launch once the go-ahead for the test was given by the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted the test on 27th March 2019 announced that the test named mission shakti was not directed against any country and the disused Indian owned satellite was the pre determined target. In an address to the nation.

India is only the fourth country to acquire such capabilities after US, Russia & China. As of now there has been instance of a space war but the countries have demonstrated their capabilities by testing their own satellites like India did.

India, Satellite, Capability
India is only the fourth country to acquire such capabilities after US, Russia & China.

In the era where defense forces rely on satellites for security & intelligence gathering, A-SAT missile capabilities sends a strong signal to the adversaries.

The successful tests also act as deterrent to a space war. The technology was available and it was high time India tested it. Political will is also needed to take such decisions and in such cases.

A-SAT has the capability to bring down a satellite and in the current scenario with the world powers trying new technologies to deter the enemies in event of a war, such technology is surely a blessing in disguise. A-SAT previously have been possessed by only 3 countries USA, Russia & China and with India joining the bandwagon of being the only 4 countries in the world. Now let’s understand the importance of having an A-SAT technology. The military communications, Inter-ballistic missiles etc work on GPRS systems. GPRS is a cluster of satellites which help these systems to navigate and reach the desired objective. For Eg: If we have to shoot a missile from India to say China, the co-ordinates for the destination is actually fed into the missile system via a GPRS system. Traditionally it was American companies who were only dealing with GPRS systems but in the recent past Russia & China developed its own GPRS systems and now India has developed its own GPRS system. Now the question remains why India is developing its own GPRS systems when you have the Americans to help you. The answer is simple, if tomorrow there is a situation that may arise where the US stops supporting you or changes the co-ordinates of the satellites, the military communications, ICBM’s, Submarine Communications both defense & attack communications will cease to function and the whole security apparatus of the country goes for a toss as they need coordinates from these satellites. Then we must also have a missile shields which India is trying to acquire from the US & Russia and they have also worked on a missile shield which is developed in-house. The striking examples are the S-400’s which have been recently acquired from Russia.

Mission Shakti, A-SAT weapon, ive satellite
With Mission Shakti India is now a space superpower. A-SAT weapon successfully targeted a live satellite in low earth orbit.

Now let’s understand why A-SAT is a Geo Political Game changer

We all know that the world has gone nuclear with most nations of the world possessing the N-BOMB & the H-BOMB, but the usage of these highly deadly weapons is not viable and most countries won’t start such wars as they are already aware of the repercussions. So the future wars will be fought by means of a newly coined terminology “STAR WARS”. In future wars if the enemy wants to disrupt your army fleet or disrupt the country at large, they will bring down the satellite which could trigger a chain reaction of events which could be disastrous to the country which has come under attack. It could affect its communications, Army movement, ICBM’s etc. The point is simple if you bring down the satellite; you bring down the strategic point of contact. It works like a Hub & Spoke Model, viz a-viz lot of things related to national security are routed via a satellite. So eventually it speaks for itself and becomes the biggest deterrent in this era of nuclear war. It has 2 advantages

1) It can be used as an asset to bring down the satellite and really cripple the attack & defense capabilities of the rogue nation.

2) In the ASEAN region, China does have this capability and is really viewed upon as a hostile country. Now if China has this and India does not have it will be looked upon as a grave disadvantage. Tomorrow if china decides to attack India it will annihilate the military satellites which will spell a dooms day as it will affect military communications, warship communications, missile systems, banking systems, civilian communications systems, media servers, power grids and so on.

Now considering these threats, India has developed this technology will ensure that in event of such unfortunate event, India could retaliate in an equal & proportional measure which makes it a big deterrent to china.

Now as India has developed this capability on its own, it has become a Geo-political game changer which clearly states that the region is more balanced as both China & India possess this capability & its helps to create a regional balance between both the countries and it brings India at par to China and mitigates the possibilities of threats and moreover it gives a high level of strategic advantage towards hostile nations & truly create a Geo-Political & regional balance in the region at large.

Strategic Defense Initiative, Department of Defense
Strategic Defense Initiative of Department of Defense

The USA is working on a real concept of STAR WARS which is basically loading conventional or nuclear missiles on satellites and firing them towards the set target. This indeed would be a biggest threat to the country as none of the existing ICBM’s or other missiles could hit the satellite. So when you have the capability to destroy that satellite is indeed the only way to negate or mitigate that level of a threat looming over a country.

So we could conclude this by saying that the Implications of A-SAT is not just confined in Asia, its implications are GLOBAL. So that is how we could say that “A-SAT IS A GEO-POLITICAL GAME CHANGER”


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Story Conceived & written by

Sumit Peer, Founder Insourcing Multiplier


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