The production value in the last seven years for the products developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is estimated around Rs.100,000 crore. The DRDO products for which the armed forces have placed these orders include missiles, main battle tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas, radars, sonars, anti-corrosion and non-skid paints, torpedoes, rifles, ammunition, parachutes, portable satcom terminals and so on. Orders have also been placed for technologies developed by the DRDO against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare agents.
“In terms of tangible outputs, the value of orders executed/under execution for the Services has crossed Rs.100,000 crore. This gives us a return-on-investment of approximately five times. The cost of similar products, when imported, may be four to five times this value [of Rs.100,000 crore],” said Dr. W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, Life Sciences, DRDO.
The DRDO-developed missiles, which are under production, include the strategic missiles Prithvi, Agni-II and Agni-I, and the tactical missiles such as BrahMos, Akash and Nag. The armed forces have placed orders valued at Rs. 38,000 crore for these missiles. This includes Akash, the surface-to-air missile, for six Indian Air Force squadrons and two Army regiments. Out of Rs. 38,000 crore, the value of Akash missiles ordered will be Rs.18,000 crore.
In aeronautics, the IAF has placed orders for 40 LCA Tejas, developed by the DRDO. The value of these 40 aircraft is estimated around Rs. 7,000 crore. The unmanned aerial vehicle, Nishant and the pilotless target aircraft, Lakshya, are under production.
Radars have fetched orders worth Rs.20,000 crore. They are battlefield surveillance radars, weapons-locating radars, maritime patrol radar, surveillance radars for mountainous terrain and Indra and Rajendra radars.
The Army has placed orders for 124 Arjun-Mark I main battle tanks, another 124 Arjun-Mark II, developed by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, Avadi, near Chennai. The neighbouring Heavy Vehicles Factory is the producer. “The value of each Arjun is around Rs. 20 crore. The total value of these orders is nearly Rs. 5,000 crore,” said Dr. Selvamurthy.
A variety of sonars developed by the DRDO are used by the Navy in its vessels. These sonars have been named Humsa, Nagan and Ushus.
In life sciences, the DRDO products which are under production and valued at Rs. 600 crore, are ready-to-eat meals, light-weight foldable stretchers, anti-leucoderma cream, and anti-eczema ointment. The technologies developed against NBC warfare agents include gamma flash sensor, dosimeter, roentgenometer, reconnaissance vehicles, water-purification filters, nerve-agent detectors, underground shelters and so on. The Defence Acquisition Council has cleared orders for anti-NBC warfare products worth another Rs. 2,000 crore.
“In addition to money value, tactical knowledge is built in these sectors by the DRDO. If we import these items, we will depend on the suppliers for maintenance and repair. When we develop and manufacture them, it leads to industrial growth in the private and public sector,” said Dr. Selvamurthy.