180 seconds from launch a little after 11.09 hours at the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island, India entered the elite club of nations with a proven capability to destroy a satellite in space. So far, only the United States, Russia and China had demonstrated the capacity by destroying a satellite in space.
With its space satellite strike, India has entered the elite club of the US, Russia and China. (Photo: ANI)
Dr VK Saraswat, former chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who had spearheaded the programme, called it as significant as India’s nuclear tests to send across a message of deterrence to the world. The fourth dimension of warfare, space — after land, sea and air — has been successfully tackled by India. G Madhavan Nair, former chairman, ISRO, too hailed the development as 'historic’ and credited prime minister Narendra Modi for the "bold decision".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier kept the nation on tenterhooks when he tweeted:
मेरे प्यारे देशवासियों, आज सवेरे लगभग 11.45 - 12.00 बजे मैं एक महत्वपूर्ण संदेश लेकर आप के बीच आऊँगा। I would be addressing the nation at around 11:45 AM - 12.00 noon with an important message. Do watch the address on television, radio or social media.— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 27, 2019
He finally addressed the nation at 24 minutes past 12 announcing the successful launch of the anti-satellite missile.
An important message to the nation. Watch. https://t.co/0LEOATgOOQ— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 27, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the achievement will have a historic impact on generations to come.
"In the journey of every nation, there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come. One such moment is today. India has successfully tested the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile. Congratulations to everyone on the success of #MissionShakti."
This is a major step towards India’s power projection and scientific achievement — given the fact that this is every bit an indigenous effort.
"This is not country-specific. This is a display of India’s ability to take down a satellite in space. A satellite in low earth orbit moves at the speed of almost 7,000 to 8,000 metres per second. To hit that satellite accurately requires tremendous scientific capabilities — and we have done it," Dr Saraswat said.
This is a demonstration that India has the ability to take out a hostile satellite in space in under three minutes.
"We have demonstrated the capability of destroying a satellite at 300 km altitude but have the ability to go even higher. With the Agni Missile test, we demonstrated the technology and capability of going even beyond 2,000 kilometres, should the need arise," he added.
There is another major achievement here — India has also tested the capability of destroying an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
"The systems have been tested successfully to identify and interdict an incoming ICBM. A certain classified range of ICBM can be destroyed and that has been certified by the end users (armed forces) and work is on at an advanced stage to deal with different ranges of ICBM," sources in the ministry of defence said.
India has also tested its ability to destroy an incoming ICBM. (Photo: Twitter)
Like a nuclear weapon, the anti-satellite missile is a weapon of deterrence. The fact that a nation has the capability is a signal to the adversary not to cross the red line in space. If India’s space assets are threatened, there will be consequences for adversaries.
This is not the first time that the prime minister has announced India’s strategic capabilities. In November 2018, Prime Minister Modi had announced the successful completion of the first deterrent patrol of INS Arihant, India’s indigenous nuclear submarine.
INS Arihant is India's first indigenous nuclear submarine. Its first complete deterrent patrol was announced by PM Modi. (Photo: Reuters)
India has also displayed its intent to not only project power but also use the power. The air strikes at Balakot and the surgical strikes after the Uri terror attack are being seen as a game changer. Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale was very clear when he said the air strikes at the Jaish-e-Muhammed training camp at Balakot was a preemptive strike.
That message marked a significant shift in India’s response to Pakistan state-sponsored terror — Balakot was not in response to the Pulwama terror attack but a preemptive strike to stop the next terror attack. Similarly, the surgical strike after Uri was also described as a preemptive strike as terrorists were building up at launch pads.
For the adversaries, the writing is on the wall.