Interview with DRDO chairman ,Dr S ChristopherApr 22,2018 SOURCE: Tejas-indias MRCA
Interview with DRDO Chairman, Dr. S Christopher. Q - DRDO is celebrating sixty years of its formation, six decades of excellence in defence research and development. On this occasion, could you share your thoughts on how successful DRDO has been in achieving its aims? A - Six decades of achievements in the service of nation is a major milestone for any organisation. We move ahead keeping the aspirations of our country and our defence forces in sight and try to give our best at par with the world standards. Today, I can proudly say that each and every member of DRDO family is committed to exploit the best to offer the latest technology The last four years in particular have seen a change in people’s perception towards our organisation, which gives a boost to the morale of our scientists. Being a true technology powerhouse of the country, DRDO’s work in myriad fields ranging from submarine to satellite has been helping to fulfil the nation’s dream of self-reliance in defence. We have been working on a slew of futuristic, cutting-edge technologies for the armed forces and the paramilitary services. DRDO is fully committed to fulfil its vision of making India self-reliant in defence systems, technology and manufacturing. The policies of the government in terms of ‘Make-in-India’ and the thrust of the Defence Acquisition Council in this direction would be a game changer in the time to come. Q - Could you give us an overview of DRDO’s recent major achievements? A - The Organisation has set its sights on making India self-sufficient in producing Defence equipment ranging from missiles, combat aircraft, submarines and engineering systems, surveillance and recce systems, among others. DRDO is also looking at providing stateof-the-art communication radars, sonars, electronic warfare (EW) systems, electro-optics and communications equipments. Each of these has been developed using indigenous manufacturing and testing facilities to maximum extent. All this has been achieved with a committed workforce of approximately 7,500 scientists supported by about 10,000 technical staff, who have worked tirelessly to overcome the challenges of developing cutting edge technologies and systems. Some recent major achievements include: - AEW&C aircraft was handed over to Indian Air Force in IOC configuration in February 2017. AEW&C aircraft flew for the first time in the Republic Day Parade 2017. - DRDO successfully flew its indigenous UAV Rustom-2 at its Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) at Chalakere, Chitradurga in Karnataka, in February 2018. This was the first flight in user configuration with higher power engine. - Firing demonstration of 155 mm X 52 calibre ATAGS, the fully indigenous towed artillery gun system, was given to DG Arty and to Hon’ble Raksha Mantri. First prototype of Arjun Armoured Recovery and Repair Vehicle (ARRV) was handed over during the visit of Hon’ble Raksha Mantri to CVRDE in October 2017. In September 2017, the Trawl System crossed a major milestone with successful completion of blast trials which demonstrated the survivability of the equipment when subjected to successive series of blast directly underneath it. This was an important step towards achieving self-reliance in area of critical military equipment under ‘Make in India’ initiative and would result in saving of precious foreign exchange for the country. - USHUS-2, submarine sonar developed by NPOL, Kochi, was handed over to the Indian Navy in March 2017. Major tests include : - Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) Nag, one of the five missile systems developed indigenously by DRDO under integrated guided missile development programme (IGMDP), has been successfully test-fired in desert conditions against two tank targets at different ranges and timings. Derby beyond visual range air-to-air missile in radar guided mode was fired from Tejas aircraft (LSP4) in May 2017, wherein the missile achieved a direct hit. Nirbhay, the long range subsonic cruise missile was successfully flight tested in November 2017. Beyond Visual Range Air-toAir Missile ‘Astra’ possessing high single shot kill probability is being developed by DRDO to engage and destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aerial targets. Seven Astra missiles were successfully launched from Su-30 MKI aircraft in September 2017. Nirbhay, the long range subsonic cruise missile developed by ADE Bangaluru, is India’s first indigenously designed and developed cruise missile having 1,000 km range and capable of carrying up to 300 kg warheads. A successful flight trial of the missile was carried out in November 2017. Operational Flight Tests (OFTs) for LRSAM having a range of 70 km were conducted from INS Kochi in May 2017. - Enhancing the UAV of India, Rustom-2 has completed its first successful test-flight last February - In the missile field, the first night trial of surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile Prithvi-II has been successfully completed. The missile has been equipped with state-of-the-art guidance system and was fired in real-time situation. It will boost the night-time combat capabilities of the forces. - All the three tests of the light weight glide bomb Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) have been successful. The bomb fired from an Indian Air Force aircraft and guided through precision navigation system, hit the target at 70 km range accurately. DRDO is promoting India’s defence production with advanced technologies and thereby reducing the defence imports. Recently, the Defence Ministry has approved the Rs 490 Crore procurement of 260 number of Software Defined Radios (SDRs), developed by DRDO for ramping up Indian Navy’s communication and surveillance on high seas. Q - BrahMos is completing 20 years. Could you speak on DRDO’s role in the development of the missile? What is the future roadmap for BrahMos? A - BrahMos supersonic missile is the result of the joint efforts by DRDO and Russia’s NPOM since 1998. The success of BrahMos has emerged due to the sharing of the technological strength of both partners. DRDO has played a pivotal role in the birth of this unique world-class product by developing its crucial systems like inertial navigation systems, mission software, mobile launchers etc. Currently, DRDO’s HEMRL (High Energy Materials Research Laboratory) is developing a special solid propellant to be used as fuel by BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. BrahMos created history when it was successfully test-fired from an airborne Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft. BrahMos-armed Su-30 MKI will be a lethal asset for the Indian Air Force. Now the missile could be launched from land, ship, aircraft and submarine, making it a formidable weapon. The supersonic cruise missile with indigenous Seeker was successfully flight tested recently on March 22, 2018 from the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan. The flight test was conducted by the scientists of DRDO and BrahMos along with the Indian Army. A high level team led by me was present during the flight trial. The supersonic cruise missile and the Seeker have been developed jointly by DRDO and BrahMos Aerospace. BrahMos is also working on the hypersonic version of the missile with a scramjet engine that allows a speed above 4 mach. It can harness immense destructive power from kinetic energy and hit deep buried targets. Q - Could you talk about the role of DRDO in the ongoing modernization drive of the armed forces? A - Modernization of armed forces is one of the top priorities of the government and DRDO has been offering its full support to the process. We are dedicated to the mission of progressive enhancement of self-reliance in defence systems and state-of-the-art defence technologies. DRDO has developed a large number of defence systems and equipment as per the requirements of the armed forces. Bullet proof jackets and helmets, Hand held thermal imagers (HHTIs), Anti-tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), Night vision devices, Radio sets, BrahMos cruise missiles, Pinaka rocket system, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Weapon Locating Radar (WLR), SWATHI, NBC Recce vehicle and NBC Drugs were handed over to the Army last year. The NBC Recce Vehicle Mk-I is developed by Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) for carrying out post event recce of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Contaminated areas. Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) SWATHI, developed by DRDO’s Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), provides fast, automatic and accurate location of all enemy weapons like mortars, shells and rockets. DRDO is also working on projects to develop new technologies for more accurate prediction of avalanches. DRDO’s indigenous systems have come to be recognized as worldclass and their export potential is on an upward trend. The Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), Pinaka MBRL, AEW&C India, LCA Tejas, Akash Missile, BrahMos Cruise Missile, Sonars, Underwater Acoustic Communication system, Torpedoes, and BFS Radar are good examples proving the point. With all these DRDO plays a decisive role in the modernization of armed forces. DRDO undertook the design and development of Trawl System for the minefield area in the battle zone to meet the operational requirements of Indian Army. In September 2017, Trawl System crossed a major milestone with successful completion of blast trials, which demonstrated the survivability of the equipment when subjected to successive series of blast directly underneath it. This was an important step towards achieving self-reliance in area of critical military equipment under ‘Make in India’ initiative and would result in saving of precious foreign exchange for the country. Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) kit integrated to the existing Pinaka Mk-II rockets makes the free flight Pinaka rocket to a guided Pinaka. This conversion has considerably enhanced the range and accuracy of Pinaka. Q - Please share with us the updates on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Rustom-2. A - Recently, DRDO successfully flew its Rustom-2 from its Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) at Chitradurga in Karnataka. This assumes significance as the first flight in user configuration with higher power engine. The medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle has met all the objectives and the parameters have been normal. Rustom-2 is being developed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles for the armed forces with an endurance of 24 hours. It is capable of carrying different combinations of payloads like synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems and situational awareness payloads. It can carry payloads for electronic and signal intelligence missions. We are working on improving the capabilities of the UAV and hope to make Rustom-2 production-ready soon. Once Rustom-2 is fully ready for operation, it will reduce the import of expensive precision attack drones. Q - Could you talk about the latest updates on Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and its induction into army? A - DRDO has developed the155mm 52-calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) in mission mode as a part of the Army’s artillery modernization programme. ATAGS has set a record during trials in Rajasthan’s Pokhran in September, firing shells to a range of 48 km, against army’s requirement of 40 km. The feat was achieved by ATAGS with special ammunition “high explosive - base bleed” (HE - BB). ATAGS has also performed well in its winter trials held in Sikkim. The ATAGS will be a viable alternative for the ageing Bofors gun of the army. ATAGS has an all-electric drive which gives advantage over traditional hydraulic drives which exist in other towed guns. The electric drives of the ATAGS gives controls in handling ammunition, opening and closing the breech mech and ramming the round into firing chamber. The MoD has given the permission to move the proposal for procurement and get the production rolling. We expect the ATAGS to be inducted into the army soon. Q - There is great need for modern battle tanks and armoured vehicles in the army. With regard to this, could you talk about the Arjun-II of DRDO? A - Arjun Mark II is being developed by DRDO to address the Army’s need of replacing its old tank fleet. Necessary modifications have been made to the advanced version of the indigenous Arjun Mark II main battle tank as recommended by the Army. It will meet the requirements of army and play a vital role in modernising its ageing tank fleet. The Arjun Mark II is an advanced third generation tank. It is a stateof-the-art tank with superior firepower, high mobility, and excellent protection. It can fire missiles, has advanced explosive reactive armour panels, mine plough, automatic target tracking, advanced land navigation system, digital control harness and advanced commander panoramic sight among other features. The Army has shown confidence in the performance of Arjun MK 2, and will acquire more of them as they become available. Q - The government is promoting indigenization in defence production by involving more private partners and boosting the Make-in-India initiative. How does DRDO contribute to this? A - India aims to achieve 75 per cent indigenisation in defence production within a decade and DRDO has been supporting the government in achieving this. We have to shed the tag of being a big importer of military hardware and software. We have proved our competence in designing and developing sophisticated, cutting edge technologies and systems for defence applications. We are going a big way in indigenisation of unmanned systems and are working on enhancing the rate of production of LCA to meet the requirements of the IAF. India also expects to have in 10 years its own platform for medium combat aircraft and Aeronautical Development Agency is working on it. DRDO has also been striving for self-reliance in artillery ammunition, tank ammunition, grenades and other areas and working out a strategy to make it totally import-free area. It is noteworthy that the development of UAV immensely contributes towards the Make-inIndia initiative as many critical systems such as airframe, landing gear, flight control and avionics sub-systems are being developed in India with the collaboration of private industries. It has been developed through collaboration with Tata Power SED and Bharat Forge Ltd. In manufacturing radars and sensors also DRDO is working to achieve self-reliance. We are pushing all DPSUs to enter the path of indigenization. The missile autonomy mission launched by DRDO aims at absolute indigenization in missile development. With increasing demands in the defence sector, DRDO is making use of both private and public firms to meet these demands by promoting indigenization. The private manufacturers can play a major role in indigenization. With the impetus from the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative we are going ahead with transfer of technology and interface with private institutions much more easily and transparently. The only way to meet indigenization target is by joining hands with private industry. DRDO has brought out a well-defined procedure for Transfer of Technology to private companies. With that in place, we are able to deal with the development of many of our projects and further production much more easily. In the coming years more and more collaboration between DRDO and the private firms for manufacturing various defence equipments and products can be expected. Q - Could you share with us the latest updates on the LCA project? A - The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas programme is moving ahead at robust pace and HAL is currently focusing on increasing the production rate of the aircraft. Trials for the Final Operational clearance are underway now. It will provide the aircraft the Air superiority capability with Air to Air refuelling and Beyond Visual Range missiles apart from multirole capability. Most of the tasks for the FOC are in the final stage and the rest will be completed soon. The completion of integration of all FOC weapons including flight envelope expansion with the Derby BVR missiles, the software fine tuning for complete carefree manoeuvring etc are also progressing. LCA Tejas has successfully completed the hot-refuelling recently. Works on achieving Air-to-Air Refuelling are also progressing and are expected to be completed by the end of April. ADA is also focusing on developing the Mk2 version of LCA. Q - Could you elaborate on DRDO’s future priorities and programmes in promoting the defence sector and bolstering national security? A - DRDO stands steadfastly committed to support the government’s objective of promoting the defence manufacturing in India and thereby diminishing the country’s need for defence imports. DRDO will strive to fulfil its mission of building on our core competence for indigenous development of state-of-the-art weapon systems, platforms and allied equipment for our Defence Services, providing technological solutions to optimise combat effectiveness and promoting well-being of the troops. We also intend to play a leading role in the indigenization of the defence sector by promoting a policy of wider inclusion, roping in more private partners into research and production. The spinoff benefits for the society at large will be substantial and this will be a great contribution to nation building.