On the occasion of 71st Republic Day, the nation gratefully paid tributes and salutations to our brave Armed Force personnel, including their families, who make an immense sacrifice for safeguarding the national security. There are also some silent heroes who have made outstanding Research and Development contributions, working tirelessly for strengthening our self-reliance in defence technology.
In the past five decades, DRDO has evolved to be a very strong R & D organisation not only in the country but also at the global level and has made path-breaking contributions to develop critical defence technologies which, even with all the money, a nation cannot acquire. Besides, building the core competence, knowledge and quality weapon system development, DRDO has designed, developed and produced through the Indian industry, both PSUs and private, defence equipment and systems worth more than Rupees two lakh crore. Many of these have already been inducted into services.
Defence scientists have provided the nation with a credible and reliable strategic defence to provide second-strike capability, to include land, air, water and underwater with nuclear weapons, having signed the self-moratorium of “No First Use”.
Today, the country can be proud of having acquired strong missile capabilities. DRDO has developed a family of missiles including Agni, Prithvi, Akash, Nag, Astra, Brahmos, interceptor missile, submarine-launched missile and more recently anti-satellite missile. These have been achieved in an environment of technology control regimes which prevent collaboration with any foreign country in these fields.
In the field of aeronautics, DRDO scientists have developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) christened as Tejas which is a State of the Art 4th generation fighter aircraft with modern avionics, fly by wire, digital cockpit, sensors and weapon integration.
In the recent 71st Republic Day parade, Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) displayed capability for surveillance capabilities. Defence scientists have already developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) including Rustom for surveillance and reconnaissance.
Another achievement in aeronautics is the development of a family of parachutes for dropping men, material and heavy vehicle. The country poised to develop the technology for building the best gas turbine engines for fighter aircrafts. Though it has not yet reached the thrust required to power LCA, it has proven its technological prowess to develop a fighter aircraft engine which may have spin-off benefit for Navy and Air Force applications.
In the armament domain, the country could achieve the development of Pinaka, multi-barrel rocket launcher, rifles, guns, ammunition and high energy materials. Main battle tank, Arjun developed by DRDO and produced by Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) have already been inducted in Army and the Mark-2 version of MBT is undergoing evaluation. Bridge layer tank, infantry combat vehicle, armoured ambulance and armoured amphibious vehicle are yet other success stories of defence research.
The country has developed very high capability in the field of Radars with a family of radars starting with Indira PC Radar, Rajendra Phase Array radar, Central Acquisition Radar, Revathi and Rohini. Some of these have already been inducted into service. Electronic Warfare (EW) system for interception and jamming, denying the enemy’s sensing have already been developed for all three services. These include Samyukta for Army, Sangraha for Navy, Airborne EW for Air Force.
Navy is actively involved with DRDO in developing sonars, torpedoes and advanced naval materials. DRDO has made significant contributions in developing the nuclear-powered submarine Arihant for strengthening the underwater operation.
The country has developed a considerable level of self-reliance in development and inducting technology, equipment and systems to combat chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threat. The capability covers technologies for early detection, personal protection, collective protection, decontamination and medical management for CBRN eventuality.
Our soldiers operate in extremes of environmental and operational conditions such as high altitude- up to an altitude of 22,000 feet, deserts, underwater, aerospace and low-intensity conflict environment. A large number of life support technologies developed by our defence scientists, and inducted in Army, Navy and Air Force, have enhanced the health and operational efficiency of troops with lots of spin-off benefits to the society at large.
“Karma Yogis” of DRDO needs to be further supported and motivated to augment the Self Reliance Index.
The government need to consider establishing a Defence Technology Commission (DTC) and placing DRDO directly under the ambit of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as is the case with the other two serving departments of Atomic Energy and Space. This will boost and hasten further self-reliance in Defence Technology.
Dr W. Selvamurthy, Ex-Chief Controller R&D, DRDO