Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Friday asked the DRDO to prioritise the development of 5,000-km range ballistic missile while building a credible missile defence system for the country.

He also congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation for developing the interceptor missile allowing India to join an elite club of nations possessing such advance technology.

“DRDO must demonstrate the capability to develop missiles of the range of 5,000 km at the earliest. This is a challenge for the DRDO and I hope they will successfully meet this challenge at the earliest,” he said in New Delhi.

Mr. Antony was addressing a gathering of defence scientists who received the DRDO’s annual award for excelling in their respective areas.

“The interceptor missile defence programme has taken India into the elite club of nations that possess the capability to demonstrate this technology. DRDO should now concentrate on developing a credible ballistic missile defence for the country,” he added.

He also asked DRDO scientists to focus on the development of Mark II version of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun for the Indian Army and the Kaveri Engine.

“The development of MBT Arjun and Kaveri Engine has been hit by delays. Development of MBT Arjun is a major milestone. But Mark II is another area of challenge. That challenge you have to meet,” he told the gathering.

Mr. Antony also asked the DRDO and the Indian Air Force to ensure on schedule the induction of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas into the force.

“After getting the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the LCA Tejas, we are moving towards its Final Operational Clearance (FOC). I am sure DRDO and IAF will work together to deliver Tejas on schedule,” he said.

He added that the delays in the development of indigenous engine for the fighter jets had given more time for the induction of the LCA and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) for the IAF.

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