DRDO Focuses on First-of-its-kind Systems and Technologies

By Editor 28-Feb-2019

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For the last 20 to 25 years, we have been technology followers. But today the scenario is changing and we are working on some of the advanced and state-of-the-art technologies. The primary challenge is to develop and field first of its kind systems and technologies that are required in the next 10 years. If we need to export our systems then we have to come out with first of its kind technologies. For that we need focussed research centres in academia, R&D institutes working for the futuristic technologies, the country should have necessary infrastructure and test facilities for these type of technologies. DRDO should be able to focus on research and should offload most of the development and production activities to the industries. We have to become Technology Leaders rather than Technology followers,” said Dr. G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman, DRDO, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and Secretary Defence R&D.

1. Being India's apex defence R&D institution, DRDO is completing its six decades of service. On this occasion how do you look at DRDO's role in shaping India as a leading defence power?

DRDO has been spearheading R&D in defence technologies in the country. When DRDO started its journey, the ecosystem was non-existent. There was no industry or academia support, facilities were rudimentary, poor infrastructure and mostly dependent on imports of technologies and systems for majority of the defence applications. Many visionaries led DRDO from the front and the team worked very hard, developed many systems, established infrastructure, technologies and most importantly the much needed ecosystem evolved within the country. Today DRDO is performing well in many of the critical areas like missiles, radars, sonars, torpedoes, EW systems and developed most of these technologies with 80 to 90% of indigenous content. Today we have nurtured many academic institutes and the faculty members and students are aligned towards the requirements of country’s defence and are supporting our endeavours. Defence and Aerospace industries landscape is fast changing. More than about 1200 industries are working for DRDO. With DRDOs support, industries who were mere suppliers have come up to built to print level and many of the industries have enhanced their capability to build to specifications today. Few industry partners are able to carry out R&D and able to design and develop innovative products and solutions for our armed forces. It is evident that the defence and aerospace industries are going through a major transformation to handle greater challenges.

2. As the secretary of Defence R&D, how do you assess India's defence research sector? What are the challenges that need to be overcome in the future?

For the last 20 to 25 years, we have been spending most of our time developing the systems which have been already developed by advanced countries and were catching up with them. We have been technology followers. Today scenario is changing and we are working on some of the advanced and state-of-the-art technologies. Academic institutes are geared up and we are able to engage them for futuristic technologies.

The primary challenge is to develop and field first of its kind systems and technologies that are required in the next 10 years. If we need to export our systems then we have to come out with first of its kind technologies. For that we need focussed research centres in academia, R&D institutes working for the futuristic technologies, the country should have necessary infrastructure and test facilities for these type of technologies. DRDO should be able to focus on research and should offload most of the development and production activities to the industries. We have to become Technology Leaders rather than Technology followers.

3. The MoD has increased the financial powers of DRDO for faster decision-making. Could you talk about the advantages and results, so far, of this decision?

The financial powers of DGs and Chairman have been increased. It has brought in decentralisation, more efficiency and improved the system. We are able to take quick decisions and in turn helping in meeting the timelines of our technological goals.

4. Could you give us an overview of the major achievements of DRDO that make the organisation the prime leader in Indian defence research and development?

DRDO developed Systems and technologies production value is over 2.7 lakh crores today. DRDO has brought in a quantum jump in the design and development of weapon systems, technologies, platforms and equipment. We have pioneered indigenous development of a range of missiles and strategic systems with land, sea and air launch capabilities; smart guided weapons and warhead technologies; underwater weapons, decoys and sensors; Armoured Vehicles, Airborne Early Warning and Control System, Autonomous Vehicles and Unmanned Systems, high performance computational systems and miniaturised electronic devices, materials and life support systems.

DRDO has also established many unique state-of-the-art infrastructure and test facilities which have strengthened our capabilities on the leading technology fronts. We are one of few nations in the world to have a multi-level strategic deterrence capability, own Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme, underwater missile launch capability, main battle tank (MBT), an indigenous fourth generation combat aircraft, nuclear-powered submarine, electronic warfare systems and multi-range radar programme. DRDO will spare no efforts and is committed to excel in building defence systems for a strong and technologically superior India.

5. The drive for raising India's image as a defence exporter by achieving self-reliance is another priority of the government? Could you share with us DRDO's export potential?

DRDO has developed many products which have generated lot of interest in the world markets. Radars, Sonars, Torpedoes, ATGMs, SAMs, BrahMos, many other smaller sub systems which are developed by DRDO are being considered for export. Govt has eased the export policy paving the way for export of our defence products to many friendly nations. In fact it will be difficult for the local industry to sustain in the longer run purely on domestic markets or requirements of the Armed forces alone and they have to explore the export potential of their products. 

6. Could you share with us your views on strengthening defence manufacturing sector as part of Make in India?

The new policies of the Government of India are enabling many overseas enterprises to start operations and set up manufacturing units in India with large investments. This is a major driver for development and potential creator of employment. The response to ‘Make in India’ call is overwhelming. The manufacturing sector, thus far neglected has been energised and invigorated. Till now we have been concentrating on many of the technologies which are denied to us.  Innovations at Small and Medium Scale industries are being encouraged and supported. The country needs to have innovative manufacturing institutes with public and private partnership. State of the art infrastructure should be established at these centres and funded. Most importantly, these technologies must be devised ultimately for exports to earn valuable foreign exchange for the country.

7. How do you look at Aero India 2019? What are the highlights of DRDO's participation at the event?

Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is participating in Aero India in a big way showcasing around 250 products and innovations. We are also organising the 12th Aero India International Seminar during 18-19th Feb 2019 at Bengaluru. The Seminar is of global importance and provides the best exposure to all participating professionals by bringing together the best in the field from all over the world. Several innovative ideas will be exchanged for the benefit of all participating nations. Many foreign industries and experts are participating in the event and it will be a good platform for the Indian industries and will provide them with business opportunities to establish collaboration and innovative technology partnerships. The deliberations and expertise shared during the event will benefit the participants enormously. This year the theme of the seminar is “Emerging Frontiers in Aerospace Technologies.” Interactions with scientists, test pilots and technological experts have also been planned by DRDO for the benefit of students and young entrepreneurs taking part in the show.