The escalating arms race between India and Pakistan reached a dangerous pinnacle on Wednesday as India deployed a ballistic space missile. Using an anti-satellite weapon dubbed ‘Mission Shakti’, India’s military forces successfully shot down a low-orbit satellite.
Indian Prime Minister Modi proudly declared his country a “space power,” becoming only the fourth country to deploy space weaponry. USA, Russia, and China are the other nations with equivalent fire power.
The nuclear-armed nation has been stockpiling weapons in a fierce display of power in recent weeks. As reported by CCN.com, India commissioned 750,000 new assault rifles and leased a nuclear submarine from Russia. The latest space weapon is a clear demonstration of military might in the escalating arms race with Pakistan.
India’s anti-satellite weapon (A-SAT) successfully hit its target on Wednesday morning, destroying a satellite 300km in space. Speaking after the event, Prime Minister Modi said:
“India has today established its name as a space power. Our scientists used an anti-satellite missile to bring down a live satellite, 300 kilometers away in space in what is called a ‘Low Earth Orbit’.”
Modi declared it a necessary step in securing India’s national security. The timing of this launch is notable as the threat of war between India and Pakistan reaches boiling point.
India’s weaponization of space comes after two months of military tension with Pakistan. As previously reported by CCN.com, India launched airstrikes on Pakistan in February in response to a suicide attack by Pakistan-based terrorist group JeM.
An arms race has since developed in tit-for-tat displays of weaponry. India readied 750,000 new assault rifles while Pakistan pointed its entire F-16 fighter jet fleet at the Indian border. Modi’s ballistic space weapon is India’s trump card in the arms race with Pakistan.
“It’s a big deal in terms of showing your capability… India has now shown its intent that it is a space power and it can use space if required for defense purposes.” – Laxman Kumar Behera, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses .
The move is likely to trigger fierce debate over the ethics of space weaponry. Thus far only China, Russia, and the US have developed sufficient firepower, but India now joins the “elite space power club .”
Donald Trump has been particularly outspoken about his desire for a “Space Force,” which could take out rival satellites.
“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”
India’s space weapon is a clear hint to Pakistan, telling Islamabad to back off. But it’s a dangerous game to play.
Pakistan has an impressive military arsenal of its own, complete with 150 nuclear warheads . Pakistan has shown little appetite for backing down in recent months, and it will likely issue another military display of its own.
Indian PM Modi maintains that his new space weapon is “a step in ensuring peace.” But right now, it only looks poised to trigger more tension in the region.