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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IAF think-tank for separate R&D cadre; not a good idea: DRDO

Air Marshal M Matheswaran, Deputy Chief, Integrated Defence Staff (Policy, Planning and Development).
 Photo: Sudhakar Jain
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: A top Indian Air Force (IAF) think-tank on Monday mooted a thought-provoking idea of setting up an independent cadre to undertake research and development (R&D) in critical technology areas. Air Marshal M Matheswaran, Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff (Policy, Planning and Development), batted for a combined R&D cadre of IAF, Army and Navy to tide over the delays, especially in the area of electronic warfare (EW). His remarks come in the backdrop of an earlier IAF view of taking up the aircraft manufacturing at its own base repair depots. However, the DRDO has expressed its reservations.
Known for his firm views on contemporary military matters, Mathewswaran told Express that the Indian government should create a Scientific Advisory Board consisting of scientists, technocrats and armed forces personnel. "The DRDO has done its bit and its time for Indian private sector to call the shots. We cannot just depend on DRDO alone any more. We need new ideas to improve the eco system in India," he said. 
Taking a cue from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in the United States, Matheswaran said that India could put the development of gen-next EW projects under this new cadre. "In the US, all major concepts emulate from the AFRL and they have dedicated senior officers working on multiple programmes. In India, we focus only on operational preparedness and very little thought is going on the technology upgradation and product support. The user must question the strengths of the industry. The MoU and JV path has taken long time to materialise and the Services need EW systems as of yesterday," Matheswaran said.
He said the private industry needs to be integrated with the defence sector, bailing them out of the barriers surrounding them. "These barriers are created by our gown agencies and the private industries should look beyond India and its armed forces. The idea is to join the global supply chain and compete with the market might," the IAF top official said. He said it's high time India took advantage of the IT sector and brought them to the defence sector. 
GREAT IDEA: MAJOR | Reacting to Matheswaran's thoughts, former IAF boss Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali Homi Major said that it's time that all high-end critical technologies are developed adopting the embedded philosophy. "The IAF has a huge bank of serving and retired officers with hands-on experience in dealing with EW systems. Creation of a separate corps for dedicated research is a great idea and I strongly feel that IAF brains should be part of some of the R&D labs running sensitive projects. The user should be the captain while developing all critical systems and our men should be embedded with the DRDO projects," Major said. He said Indian defence need to adopt out-of-the-box-ideas to outsmart the tech denials looming over many critical areas.
JUST NOT DONE: DRDO | Speaking to Express from Delhi, K Tamil Mani, Director General Aeronautical Systems, DRDO, opposed the idea of having independent agencies taking up research in critical areas. "The thought process should be to synergise our strengths and not to channel them in different directions. Independent R&D might not take India forward. Instead, the DRDO labs, users and the industries should come together. EW systems cannot be outsourced and we need to develop them within the country itself," he said. When asked whether he was rejecting the idea of a new R&D carde in India, as suggested by Matheswaran, the DRDO DG said: "I don't deny the requirements of the IAF. But joining hands is always a better idea, than going alone."
Copyright@The New Indian Express

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