DRDL Director P. Venugopalan was very candid during a one-to-one with Express.
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore/Hyderabad: Hit by delays and accusations of being a 'non-delivering' unit from the Services and the media, India's Defence and Research and Development Oragnisation (DRDO) seems to have finally woken up. The opening up of the defence sector and the touchdown of more players into the arena, have probably got them closer to the truth that they need the massive backing of India's public and private industries, to bail them out of the slow-syndrome.
Venugopalan said that a minimum of two vendors will have to be identified for every project. "This will ensure quality and on-time deliveries. We want to be a major player, where ever there's a joint development. We have the confidence now. Joint development has minimum risk too," he said.
Batting for automated manufacturing technologies in missile production, the DRDO's 'Outstanding Scientist' said that a fast-track line production should come to the fore. "We can't fund the private sector in a big way as the government policies don't allow us now. We should be given the freedom to chose between private and public sector in a transparent manner. The Indian Space Research Organisation does it. Some guidelines can be put in to identify private industries so as to evaluate their capabilities. Hand-holding is the key and we are ready to travel a long way with the industries," he said.
When asked why DRDO's missile programmes were always running behind the schedules, Venugopalan felt the need for a new thought-process while planning missile production. "We tend to give short-time schedules and this needs to be changed. Right now we don't have a choice to go for multiple agencies. Private industries want firm orders as the investments are huge. Development and production planning has to be concurrent. Our development cycle is shortening. The change in defence policy also has also helped," he said.
He said the Services have started to repose faith in DRDO, from a 'no-faith scenario' of the past. "From a time when the DRDO was highly mistrusted, there's a sudden change in the way people and Services look at us. We can't put unrealistic targets. Next 10 years, more than 10,000 tactical missiles need to produced at a cost of Rs 80,000 crore. The only way to get deliveries on time and good will is to get into a production tie-up with major industry partners. Industry must have a strong R&D group too," he said.
He wanted the government to get a long-term commitment from the Services, while ordering home-grown systems. "There are lots of problems with the life-cycle support for the imported missiles," he said.
[To be continued.]
(Copyright@The New Indian Express)
(CRACKING INDIA'S MISSILE CODE is an exclusive series currently on in The New Indian Express. In the days ahead, you will get to read a mix of news-breaks and tech-upgrades on current and futuristic missile programs of India, in addition to some human-interest pieces. Email your thoughts on this long-range series to firstname.lastname@example.org and point out factual errors, if any, that might have crept in despite my best efforts.)