NEW DELHI

Manmohan regrets delays by DRDO

Forging ahead: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh applauds as Defence Minister A.K. Antony releases the Technology Monograph, prepared by S.K. Ray, Director, Research Centre Imarat (left), at the DRDO Awards function in New Delhi on Saturday.

Forging ahead: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh applauds as Defence Minister A.K. Antony releases the Technology Monograph, prepared by S.K. Ray, Director, Research Centre Imarat (left), at the DRDO Awards function in New Delhi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Special Correspondent

“Lack of synergy among developers, producers and users”



Slips are manageable, says DRDO chief

Not interested in arms race: Prime Minister



NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said delays by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in the development of major weapons systems were forcing the country to look for external procurements. Speaking at the DRDO awards function here on Saturday, the Prime Minister also touched on a major reason for the delays — lack of synergy between the developers (DRDO), producers (industry) and the users (armed forces) — and called upon the three to strike the right balance amongst their competing priorities for advanced weapons systems.

“The rapidly changing international defence and security environment does not of course always provide us the luxury of developing weapons systems over long gestation periods. Delays at the development stage run the risk of obsolescence of the weapon system by the time it is ready for serial production. Causing delays at the stage of production means our armed forces are deprived of timely deliveries, which often compel the Government to look for external procurement to fill emerging gaps in our inventories,” he said in a rare public reprimand of the DRDO.

However, DRDO chief M. Natarajan had a slightly different take on the subject. “Delivering the weapon system on time is not the exclusive responsibility of the DRDO. Our job is to propel the technology to the industry to translate it into meaningful production for the services. There has to be a joint effort,” he told newspersons after the function.

Revamp soon

While admitting that delays were more in tactical systems he felt there was no reason to get discouraged because the slips were “manageable.”

The DRDO, he said, was planning to revamp its personnel policy to encourage talent and benefit from the trend of new entrants opting for short tenures and introducing (with Government approval) new modes of industry-DRDO partnership. He also did not concur with the Prime Minister’s observation that delays led to obsolescence by pointing out the basic platforms last for 40 years and the need for improvements in other value additions such as electronic warfare systems and radars are factored in at the development stage.

Reaffirming the Government’s desire to seek a neighbourhood of peace and prosperity, Dr. Singh said: “We don’t wish to engage in an arms race with any one. As a possessor of advanced technologies, we will continue to maintain the highest standards of non-proliferation controls.”

“India stands for peace and for the peaceful resolution of all problems between nation-states. Our national goal is to foster an external and internal environment of peace and stability, which will allow us adequate space to concentrate on the multiple economic and social challenges facing our people. But the reality is that we live in a world of unequal power relations. We live in an uncertain international security environment. We are therefore obliged to create adequate defence preparedness to manage any potential challenge to our security and vital national interests,” he reasoned. Underlining the importance of indigenous defence research, Dr. Singh pointed out that a key factor driving the power of nations was their ability to operate on the frontiers of scientific and technological knowledge. “This is as important for our national defence as it is for our economic security and strength. Our country looks to the DRDO to fulfil this vital national goal.”

At the same time, the Prime Minister took note of the “significant developments” of the DRDO during the past one year — the successful launches of the Agni-III and BrahMos missiles, demonstration of anti-ballistic missile technology, the first flight by the limited series production block of the indigenous fighter aircraft Tejas and production of the main battle tank Arjun. He also mentioned the advances made in electronic warfare, radar and communication systems, as well as in naval systems, materials technology and in the application of the life sciences.

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