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Friday, February 28, 2014

Admiral Joshi's firm support bailed out many desi defence projects

LCA Navy project would have been a different story, but for Admiral Joshi's support, says a DRDO official.

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Admiral D K Joshi, who stepped down as the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) is sure to be missed by the R&D fraternity for the firm support he extended to some of the home-grown programmes. Terming him as a 'gentleman-officer, senior officials who spoke to Express, said that Joshi was always a huge supporter of India's research and development (R&D) efforts in the defence sector.
The naval variant of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) which had ran into long delays owing to multiple manufacturing flaws, including a bulky undercarriage, is one programme Joshi backed right from his tenure as the Deputy CNS. An official monitoring the current progress of naval LCA project says that Joshi never lost his confidence in the programme, even when the entire naval establishment vented its ire over unprecedented delays. "Today, if the naval LCA project is back on track, Admiral Joshi needs to be given the credit. He did an excellent job and moderated the progress at the right time, ensuring the right pace. Even when the senior-most naval officers minced no words over the delays, Joshi stood ground and saw through the issues. This brought in an attitudinal change from the the Navy towards project," says the official.
He said Joshi's calm approach had a positive impact on the project. "During all the review meetings, he told the naval LCA team that quality mattered and the delays were understandable. Considering that there were multiple agencies involved in the project, Joshi's backing came at a very crucial time," he said.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which often received flack from the Services for time and cost over-runs of various projects, saw a messiah in Joshi, who is said to have gone the extra mile, during various project reviews. "Not just Tejas, even for submarine and torpedo projects he was always on our side. He understood the R&D efforts and we always felt very comfortable to work with the Navy. He always wanted more prototypes for all projects and dealt very friendly when a serious issue came up. His participative nature was very heart-warming," says an official with the DRDO.
While the Indian Navy traditionally backed India's home-grown efforts in R&D, it was very critical of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). While HAL made many modifications on ALH to meet the additional requirements, it failed to impress the Navy for a long time. "In the 5.5. tonne weight category, ALH demonstrated everything what was demanded from us. But the Navy wasn't happy which delayed its induction. Only after Admiral Joshi took charge, the Navy finally raised its first ALH squadron (INAS-322) in Kochi. His role is known to everyone who pushed for the ALH's case," says an HAL official.
SBTF launch postponed: The dedication of Shore-Based Test Facility (SBTF) to nation, scheduled to be held at Naval Air Station INS Hansa in Goa on March 1, has been postponed. Sources said that the event is not cancelled, but postponed, owing to the developments following Joshi's resignation. 
Copyright@The New Indian Express

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