India’s pursuit of self-sufficiency in defence, as envisioned by Prime Minister Modi, is progressing rapidly. According to Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, former Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Chairperson of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the necessary ecosystem, especially for developing cutting-edge technology, is now in place. In an exclusive interview with Bharat Shakti Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale, Dr Reddy highlighted the significant strides made by the private industry and academia in meeting the challenges.
All Missile Technology is Indigenous; India Self-reliant in Radars
Presently, 300-400 industries are dedicated exclusively to missile technology. There is a palpable confidence among Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that investing in technology and producing innovative products will find a market, creating a symbiotic relationship between innovation and demand.
Discussing India’s achievements in missile technology, Dr Reddy outlined the progression from surface-to-surface missiles like Agni, Prithvi, Dhanush, and Akash to air-to-air missiles Astra and further into surface-to-air longer and medium-range missiles. The successful development of the anti-tank missile Nag, helicopter-launched Helina, and the ballistic missile defence program’s Pralay surface-to-surface missile has solidified India’s status as a missile power.
Beyond missiles, India has developed a range of naval missiles, including the BrahMos version, short-range SRSAM missiles, anti-ship missiles, and air-to-ground missiles. Dr Reddy emphasized that India has entered the exclusive club of countries working on hypersonic technology, having tested a 24-second hypersonic test demonstrator vehicle.
The self-reliance extends to the entire missile system, with indigenous contributions in propulsion, rocket motors, navigation systems, and control systems. Dr Reddy noted the emergence of 300 to 400 companies exclusively focused on missile technologies, showcasing the industry’s robust growth. For instance, the Akash missiles produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) see 85% of their value coming from local private industries.
Expanding beyond missiles, India has achieved self-reliance in radars, torpedoes, electronic warfare systems, airborne warning and control systems (AWACS), gun systems, ATACS armoured gun vehicles, and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). This diversification in defence capabilities has occurred over the last 7-8 years.
Government Policy Key
Dr Reddy highlighted the pivotal role of government policies in strengthening the domestic sector. The Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives, emphasizing indigenous arms and equipment, have resulted in policies allocating maximum capital budget to indigenous equipment. The Development cum Production Partner (DcPP) approach by DRDO has instilled confidence in the private industry, leading to large production orders for missiles, bombs, and other defence equipment.
Government policies have also spurred the growth of private companies in the defence sector, with over 2000 companies currently operating in tiers 1 and 2. DRDO has established 15 centres of excellence for research and set up five laboratories for young scientists, aligning with the Prime Minister’s vision.
“During my tenure at DRDO, I issued 136 Development cum Production Partnerships (DcPPs) and granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) worth 60,000 crores exclusively to the private sector. Thanks to government policies, there are now over 2000 companies in tier 1 and 2, covering everything from sub-systems to complete systems, actively contributing to the defence sector. It represents a significant transformation”, he observed.
India Should Lead the World in Developing Technology
Dr Reddy emphasised India’s potential to lead the world in developing state-of-the-art technologies to address geopolitical challenges. He identified areas such as AI, ML, Cyber, Quantum technology, the 5th dimension of warfare, high-powered electromagnetic, lasers, smart materials, and space technology as crucial domains for innovation. The goal is not merely to catch up with the world but to position India as a leader in technological advancements.
(Note: Click the following web link to watch the full interview ‘All Missile Technology Is Indigenous; India Self-reliant In Radars’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLjUzvR-jGE)