The Defence Research and
Development Organisation (DRDO) has embarked on a journey to empower India
with the cutting-edge defence technologies. The mission is to be
self-reliant in critical defence technologies and systems by
indigenisation in order to equip the Indian Armed Forces with
state-of-the-art weapons system and equipment.
The DRDO executes various research
and development projects through a network of 51 laboratories spread
across India. The department has a technical work force comprising 6000
scientists, engineers and 35000 office personnel. DRDO’s initiatives are
aimed at minimising the dependence on imports that come with unacceptable
The DRDO has accorded top priority
to the development of critical technologies. Some notable achievements
include the Gallium Arsenide and Silicon Foundries; Monolithic Micro Wave
Integrated Circuit (MMIC) and Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC),
Parallel Processing and Super Computer; Titanium Sponge and Aerospace
Application Materials; Semi-Conductor Materials and their Substate
Materials; Digital Flight Control and Avionics; High Power Lasers and
Some of the systems developed by
DRDO that have either entered the production phase or are under production
for delivery to the Armed Forces include Agni-II missle, pilot-less
target aircraft, Lakshya, bridge layer tank on T-72 chassis,
multi-span bridge-Sarvatra, hull-mounted sonar system-Hamsa,
submarine sonar-system-Ushus and Panchendriya.
Both the Indian Air Force and Indian
Navy have now inducted Lakshya. Five Lakshya with control
equipment are under manufacture for the Army. Consequent upon the interest
evinced by Israel, the demonstration flights of Lakshya have
successfully been conducted in that country. Nishant is an unmanned
aircraft developed for aerial surveillance and reconnaissance of the
battlefield. Its development has been completed and its reliability and
consistence in performance have been established. Nishant’s production
is likely to begin shortly.
The supersonic missile-Brahmos-is
the outcome of a joint venture between India and Russia. It has been
flight-tested twice in India and both times it met all mission objectives.
Both Indian and Russian navies are preparing for trials of Brahmos on
various platforms to induct it in their missile systems. The production
facilities have also been geared up in both the countries to meet the
The first technology demonstrator
was flight-tested on January 4, 2001. The second technology demonstrator
made its maiden flight on June 6, 2002. Till now, 33 test flights have
taken place. To accelerate the pace of development and flight trials, five
more prototype vehicles, PV1-PV5, are being built. The Light Combat
Aircraft (LCA) is planned to be inducted into Air Force after the initial
operational clearance in 2005-06. Agni-I, a single stage solid
propelled missile having a range of 800 kms, was test-fired in January
this year and also last year. The range fills the gap between Prithvi
and the intermediate range ballistic missile. This missile can be fired
from both rail or road missile launchers.
In developing tanks, the DRDO’s
role has been commendable. One example is main battle tank, Arjun.
The Army has ordered 124 state-of-the-art Arjun developed
indigenously by the DRDO. Tank-Ex, which integrated the turret of Arjun
with the lightweight chassis of T-72, has been evaluated
successfully in-house and was on display during Defexpo-2002.
Another success story is the Pinaka,
an area weapon system. It has undergone user trials successfully in
July last year. The system has met users’ requirements for accuracy and
consistency. Pinaka has the capability of firing in a single salvo
12 rockets in less than 40 seconds with a range of 38 kms.
DRDO puts thrust on developing a
high power propulsion system, high speed torpedo system, underwater
ranges, naval stealth technology and self-propelled mine and mobile
decoys. Due emphasis will be given to developing protective equipment for
the Army at high altitude, anti-G suit, aircrew ensemble for nuclear,
biological and chemical protection, ready-to-eat food etc.
One major concern of DRDO has been
the shortage of scientific talent. In the recent past, certain initiatives
have been taken in this direction. The DRDO has undertaken a recruitment
drive through the newly adopted talent search scheme and campus
interviews. The results have been fairly encouraging. The department has
been successful in drawing fresh graduates from IITs and RECs. The total
intake during last year has almost doubled at 771 as compared to 437 in
2000 and 431 in 2001. To extend more research opportunities to young
scientists and researchers under the Extra-Mural Research Scheme, 60 new
projects worth over Rs 25 crore have been approved this year.