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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 January 2007, 16:16 GMT
India in aerospace defence plan
Indian space capsule launched on 10 January
Last week India tested technology for a manned space mission
India says it is to build an aerospace defence command aimed at preventing possible attacks from space.

The head of India's air force outlined the plans saying it would protect both Indian territory and assets.

Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi said India was an aerospace power with "trans-oceanic reach" and it was vital it should be able to exploit space.

It comes two weeks after China carried out a test in which it used a missile to destroy an old satellite in orbit.

Military command

In the wake of China's test, in which a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile was used to destroy a weather satellite, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for a "weapons free outer space".

The demand was backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a recent visit to India.

We are an aerospace power having trans-oceanic reach and we have started training a core group of people for the aerospace command
Air Chief Marshal Tyagi
"The fundamental position of the Russian Federation is that outer space should be absolutely weapons free," Mr Putin told a joint press conference with Mr Singh in Delhi.

Military analysts say the Indian project would probably replicate the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) set up by the United States and Canada, which detects and tracks man-made objects in space.

"As the reach of our air force is expanding it has become extremely important that we exploit space and for it you need space assets," Air Chief Marshal Tyagi said.

"We are an aerospace power having trans-oceanic reach and we have started training a core group of people for the aerospace command," he added.

He said civilian expertise would be used to be build the planned aerospace command, but that it would be under military command.

Last week India said it successfully tested the technology which ensures the safe return of astronauts from space after an orbiting capsule returned to Earth.

The capsule splashed down in the Bay of Bengal off the east coast after 11 days orbiting the earth, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said.

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