DRDO seeks inter alia to achieve a self-reliance of more than 70%

Achieving a self-reliance of more than 70 per cent, equipping ballistic missiles with multiple and manoeuvrable re-entry warheads, developing long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and long-range cruise missiles that could be launched from land, air and sea, are among the major thrust areas of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the coming years.

Stating this in an interview with The Hindu here on Sunday, Avinash Chander, DRDO’s new Director-General and Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, expressed confidence that Tejas Light Combat Aircraft would achieve final clearance for induction by 2014 end. Besides LCA, the induction of long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles — Agni-IV and Agni-V — in two years was top on the agenda.

‘Ambience just right’

Mr. Avinash said that DRDO was rightly poised to convert its technological potential into momentum for delivery of weapons. The ambience was just right to ensure that a higher than 70 per cent self-reliance was achieved. “This should happen in the next few years,” he added.

Referring to the schedule for induction of LCA, he said: “It is a major challenge and we are gearing up for it. From today, we have to do 40 flights per month.” He also cited the Ballistic Missile Defence programme, Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile , Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile projects taken up with Israeli collaboration and air-to-air Astra missile as the other important focus areas.

‘Product-oriented’

Declaring that DRDO was transforming itself from a mere design agency into a product-oriented organisation, he said it was simultaneously getting ready for new higher end technological challenges. Developing manoeuvring warheads was vital for future strategic deterrence capability. The aim was to reach world-class capabilities in various fields, including having ballistic missiles with manoeuvring warheads and long range cruise missiles for all platforms.

The other thrust areas would be the development of the fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft , unmanned combat aerial vehicle , solar-powered higher range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle , short-range quick reaction SAMs and high-precision warheads that could be launched from aircraft or missiles.

Vying with the best

Mr. Avinash said DRDO would like to compete with the best in the world and develop long-range SAMs of 300 km range and air-to-air missiles with more than 100 km range. In addition, high-end, intelligent and highly agile futuristic missiles would be designed and developed as also capabilities to protect space assets.

He said DRDO would set up four or five technology centres in collaboration with academic institutions to take up cutting-edge research and develop products. Industry capabilities would also be harnessed fully and the new defence procurement procedure had created the right environment for expanding the technology base of the industry. Another activity would be to develop export capability of Indian defence products.

More In: National | News | Hyderabad