Instrumentation for Defence forces

There is a wide a wide variety in the instruments used in the Defence forces. Whatever be the field of application, precision and accuracy of measurements are of great significance. The application may be surveillance, reconnaissance, piloting, navigation, guidance, target identification and acquisition, weapon aiming, designation, or ranging and counter measures under all weather conditions during day and night.

In any of these, there cannot be any compromise on quality. New methods of measurements and new instruments may have to be evolved to meet the demands of changing trends in operations. New applications will need new technology. This brings out the importance of research and development in instrumentation in the Defence services.

Though there are mechanical, pneumatic, electrical, thermal, optical and other types of instruments, those with in-built application of electronics are perhaps the most widely used type in industries. Application of computer technology may also be involved in measurements and data preservation. However, in Defence forces, there is often an emphasis on instruments based on applied optics.

Under the Defence Research and Development Organisation, there is an establishment exclusively for R&D in the field of instruments: The Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE), Raipur Road, Dehradun – 248 008;

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The establishment had its beginning in Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan. In 1939, it was the Inspectorate of Scientific Stores, with the limited responsibility of inspecting the telecommunication equipment in the Indian Army. It then got transformed as Technical Development Establishment (Instruments & Electronics), Dehradun. In 1960, it assumed its present stature.

IRDE has the responsibilities of research, design, development and technology transfer in optical and electro-optical instrumentation mainly for the Defence services.

Areas of work

Applied and background research and development in applied optics.

Consultancy on optical and electro-optical instruments, components and materials.

Creation and maintenance of facilities for parametric measurements, performance and environmental evaluation of optical and electro-optical components/systems.

Design and development of complete fire control systems and devices.

Design and development of infrared search and track systems.

Design and development of standalone surveillance systems.


Development of optical systems, such as day vision, low light level TV.

Line of sight stabilisation for different applications.

Photonic research.

Thermal imaging (forward-looking infrared) and laser-based instrumentation.

Transfer of technology to public and private sectors.


Aspirants for research may note the diversity of work that can be undertaken in the establishment. A quick look at the range of products will reveal the fruitful studies and research that have been carried out.

The design capabilities of IRDE cover optical, electro-optical and opto-mechanical design and optical thin film areas. The technologies used include ballistic computation and day sight (direct vision, periscope and panoramic) and handheld day-night surveillance.

Several systems have been employed in the studies. Some of these are electro-optical fire control systems, laser-based instruments such as range finders, designators, seekers and proximity sensors, line-of-sight control systems and thermal-imaging-based surveillance systems.

Products from IRDE

An indicative list of the products from the establishment is given below.

Complete fire control systems.

Day vision devices like episcopes, binoculars, and sighting systems.

Fibre optics systems.

Laser altitude switches.

Laser range finders.

Laser range sensors.

Laser warning systems.

Magnifiers for the visually challenged.

Night vision devices such as low light TV.

Photonics and holographic products.

Snow-surface particle counter.

Stabilisation systems.

Standalone thermal imagers.

Target acquisition systems.

Facilities available

Any potential research student will be keen to know the range of equipment and other facilities in the laboratory of his choice. IRDE is rich in this aspect as well. Some of the items of equipment available are listed below.

3-axes stabilisation test facility.


Coating facility on optics for visible and Infrared region.

Environmental test laboratory.

Laser interferometer.

Night vision device test facility.

Rapid prototyping facility.

Signal-to-noise ratio test facility.

Software for optical design.

Thermal imaging systems evaluation facility.

The establishment does not function in isolation; it keeps continuous interaction with other research organisations in its area of specialisation. Some of these are the major Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute, Pilani, the Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering and Research, Mumbai, the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation, Chandigarh, and sister laboratories of the DRDO.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 5:31:52 PM |

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