Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Tejas production method in HAL needs to be well-oiled; 100% indigenization in defense not possible: Saraswat

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tejas production method in HAL needs to be well-oiled; 100% indigenization in defense not possible: Saraswat

By Anantha Krishnan M. | Aviation Week AW&ST  Bangalore | India | January 11
India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is finally making progress with many homegrown projects. Often on the receiving end of time and cost overruns, DRDO has been kept on its toes by the Indian media, audit agencies, experts and the armed forces. Amidst all the brickbats and occasional bouquets, DRDO held firm, and slowly the products started gaining acceptance by India’s armed forces. India’s industries also came of age and showed increasing confidence in partnering with DRDO. At the helm of DRDO’s affairs is India’s leading missile scientist, Dr. V.K. Saraswat, who is also the scientific advisor to India’s defense minister. “I am for international collaboration and don’t believe in 100% indigenous development, which is not possible in the current scenario. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. Development has to be collaborative,” Saraswat tells Anantha Krishnan M., Aviation Week’s Senior Aerospace and Defense Correspondent (India), in a one-on-one interview for the India Thought Leaders (ITL) series. (Below is the gist of the interview.)
On DRDO’s bumpy ride: The last 20% completion phase of various projects needed more time and extra focus than what the initial 80% took and needed extra focus. This was the period, maybe for close to two decades until around 2005, [when] we found that the output was very fluctuating. This became a major sore point as the country and armed forces were concerned. The users thought we were not delivering. Hence, we decided to channelize all our energies toward the critical 20% of the phase in the last two years.
On LCA production: My assessment is that there should be much more effort from the production agencies to take the Tejas program forward. What is required for the production of Tejas, a lean manufacturing process should be in place. We must have good supply chain lines, good contractors (tier I, II) and state-of-the-art tooling systems. We should have excellent methods of contracting, monitoring, evaluating and integrating every work. While we have some of these in patches, HAL needs to consolidate all this into a great process. An efficient production method is yet to be put in place by HAL as far as LCA is concerned.
On the missile front: The focus of DRDO in the next five years will be to build a subsonic cruise missile for multi-platforms. The work has already begun. Now we are focussing on major building blocks for the missile, which means engines. We will begin work on loitering missiles. We are looking at launching multiple sub munitions from a low-cost rocket or a missile, which can be guided against each target.
New areas: The most neglected area is gun development, and we have already started work in this area. We want to develop even the engine in India for FMBT and have launched a national program involving private industries, academic institutions and DRDO.
On international collaboration: I am for collaborations. The whole idea is to accelerate our pace of development and avoid reinventing the wheel. I personally don’t believe in the 100% indigenous philosophy, which is the most impractical one. Today, if anyone wants complete homegrown products in critical areas, it is because of the lack of [understanding] of the dynamics of the market and a lack of understanding of what is global competitiveness.
On DRDO revamp: We are making good progress. We are implementing 20 to 30% of the Rama Rao Committee recommendations on DRDO’s makeover. The complete decision-taking process has been decentralized. Delivery will be the watchword for DRDO’s progress.
The full interview in: 

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