Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) : News and Updates

Restructuring DRDO Would Be A Big Blunder
opinion piece

If you go by PSU trade union folks we would still be in socialist era.

DRDO needs improvement but it shouldn't break things what's already working. More institutional mechanism to work with industry and academia. Delegate everything which can be done by them.
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DRDO developing Aircraft Arrester Gear NG with Indian Industry. It is critical safety equipment which r installed at both ends of runway. DRDO developed 20T&40T class Arrester Barrier which r operational. now initiating development of single system of 6 to 40T Arrester Barrier .

CFD studies of the same 6-40T class is about to begin, which indicates the 20T & 40T systems have come to a more mature stage now.


Some SMART parachute trial also either happened or about to (they tested some recently I think)

J. Rajesh Kumar assumed the charge as the Director of Combat Vehicle Research & Development Establishment today , consequent upon the superannuation of V. Balamurugan.
J Rajesh Kumar was previously the Associate Director in CVRDE for Main Battle Tank Group and Project Director for prestigious Light Tank Project. He has also been awarded as Outstanding Scientist.
He has significantly contributed for shaping up the first prototype of Light Tank

“DRDO is making country a global leader in defence research & technology”

Our Prime Minister has set the country a target of becoming a developed country in the next 25 years. He has also set us a target that we should become a defence technology leader in the global community. We are working under this vision of our Prime Minister and under the guidance of our Raksha Mantri. We are, as I told you, gradually transitioning to working on futuristic technologies, which will give the cutting edge to our defence systems. Therefore, our vision is to work on the new disruptive technologies, futuristic technologies, such as Hypersonic Missiles, Directed-Energy Weapons. Currently, our exports are on a rise, but over the next 15 years, my wish and hope is that we will become one of the leading exporters in the world,” said Dr Samir V Kamat, Chairman, DRDO, in an exclusive interview to Deepak Kumar Rath, Editor. Excerpts:

What have been the achievements of DRDO so far?
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) being the premier organisation working in defence has given our scientists a great motivation to contribute to the security of the nation. If the economy has to grow, we have to have a strong defence, and a strong defence can only happen when you have your own R&D and develop your own technologies right in defence. So that is the role the DRDO plays and over the last few years we have made the country Aatmanirbhar or self-reliant in several systems. Now, for example, our missiles are one of the best in the world. We are able to make not only the missiles required as our strategic deterrence, but we are able to make all types of missiles required by our Services. Then our radars are state of the art; Our electronic warfare systems, our sonar, our torpedoes, our attacks guns are one of the best in the world. We are also aware that our BrahMos missile is now being exported to Philippines. We are receiving export orders from several countries. This year, India has exported defence equipment to the tune of Rs 16 000 crore and a lot of them are from DRDO. So DRDO is playing its role in ensuring self-reliance in defence.
  • DRDO does research and development. Don't you feel this is not sufficient and more need to be done?
Once the present government took over in 2014, its main objective has been giving increasingly thrust to self-reliance and Make in India yeah, which was not there earlier. Now, this has given a big boost to industry to participate in the defence sector and now they are coming forward to design and develop systems. Earlier, since there was no assurance of orders, because a lot of our equipment were getting imported, the industry also was not that enthused for coming into the defence sector. But with this government's trust, we are now getting an ecosystem created within the country, where there is an interest in large industries, in MSMEs and startups to work in the defence sector. The academia also now is increasingly willing to work on defence problems. So, we now have created a different ecosystem, where the defence systems, which are incremental advances over the current defence system, can be handled by the Indian industry themselves. So the design and development of these kinds of systems can happen directly by industry. DRDO has started this process by making industries our development-cum-production partners. Subsequently, they can do the design and development of the next advances themselves. So, this process has started. This will free up DRDO for doing futuristic technologies, which will make us a global leader. All the new disruptive technologies, which are emerging, such as Quantum Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Smart Materials, Cognitive Technologies, are some of the new cutting-edge areas that DRDO is now focusing on. We hope that by focusing our efforts in these futuristic areas, we will make the, country a global leader in defence technologies and will provide our Services with cutting-edge defence systems in the future.

  • DRDO’s achievements have proved to be very good technology demonstrators, particularly in the field of missiles, but have they been produced in enough numbers? Don’t you think they are required more?
See, DRDO does not do production. DRDO is an R&D organization. We develop a prototype. We prove it then we have a production agency or now we call them BCPST. So the production happens in the industry but the industry will produce only if there are orders from the Services. Now, with the government's alliance and trust and PM’s and RM’s trust on Aatmanirbharta and Make in India, these orders are now coming to the industry. Now you will see, going ahead, several of our systems will be produced in large numbers.
  • What are the responses from the Indian industry for Make in India, and in the past, there have been many cases when defence PSUs have been nominated to produce a weapon system or some equipment. What is the present status?
As I said earlier, the Indian industry is now enthused. They have embraced this Make in India, because now they know that if they invested time and effort in developing and producing a system, it will be bought by our Services. So, several new industries have come into the defence sector. There are large industries such as L&T, Mahindra’s, Adani’s. Then there are smaller industries, MSMEs, where the number is very large. And then, there are start-ups. So, I am very sure that in the coming years, we will be one of the leading defence technologies and system producers in the world.

  • Which arms or equipment have been produced to counter terrorism, and which of them have been and will be produced for Central police forces and state police forces?
We don't directly work for making such systems, but several of our systems have an offshoot or a spin-off for Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs). So, we are actively working with the Home Ministry to see how our systems, which we, have developed for our armed forces, can be modified suitably to meet CAPFs’ requirements. So, this is an active programme. we have a separate group, which is addressing these issues and several of our systems have now been inducted into the set CAPFs. Hence, it is a very good question and I think the benefits of Defence R&D should also go to a Central police force or a state police force.

  • Is the coordination going perfectly in this regard?
We have a mechanism in place where Home Secretary and myself sit together twice in a year and then identify what are the systems of DRDO, which can be of use to the CAPFs.
  • Against the backdrop of the government giving more impetus to DRDO, what is the future plan of DRDO?
Our Prime Minister has set the country a target of becoming a developed country in the next 25 years. He has also set us a target that we should become a defence technology leader in the global community. We are working under this vision of our Prime Minister and under the guidance of our Raksha Mantri. We are, as I told you, gradually transitioning to working on futuristic technologies, which will give the cutting edge to our defence systems. Therefore, our vision is to work on the new disruptive technologies, futuristic technologies, such as Hypersonic Missiles, Directed-Energy Weapons. Thus, within the next 15 years, you will see a DRDO which will make the country a leader in defence technology. And once you become a leader, you are able to export all our systems globally. Currently also, our exports are on a rise, but over the next 15 years, my wish and hope is that we will become one of the leading exporters in the world.

  • India is going to use the G technology engines, C engines. What about the Kaveri engine? Why it became a failure?
Aero engine technology is a challenging technology. Only four nations in the world have mastered this technology. So, I will not say the Kaveri engine is a failure; we were not able to meet the thrust required for the LCA platform. However, the engine is doing well. It is producing a slightly lower thrust. So, we are now using the dry Kaveri engine for a future programme called unmanned aerial vehicle. The very work that we have done will get utilised in our unmanned aerial vehicle. It will not go into LCA, because it could not meet the thrust requirement of LCA. That’s why we have to go for the GE engine. But this will be the base on which we will now build capabilities for developing the Next Generation engine, which is the 110 kilonewton thrust engine. We are looking at working in collaboration with the foreign partner so that we can deliver this engine over the next 10 to 15 years and this then will give us the capability to make engines for all the future aero aerial platforms that we need in the country. I will not call Kaveri a failure.I will say it did not meet the thrust requirement of LCA but that engine, which we have established, will be used in another platform.
  • After this tie-up with GE, how hopeful are you for next generation aircraft?
This is a manufacturing tie-up. This is not for development or R&D. This manufacturing tie-up is between HAL and GE. This is for production of F414 engine in India. What I am talking about is the 98 kilonewton thrust engine for our HAL Tejas Mk II. When we want to make a future aircraft, which will require a higher thrust engine, we have to start now working on this higher thrust engine. There we are looking for a partnership. GE could be one of the partners. The French company Safran can be one of the partners. Or the UK company Rolls-Royce could be one of the partners. We are working on this; we are in talks with all of them to see if we can co-develop an engine required for our next generation aircraft.

  • You are one of the top global experts on metallurgy. Please give your thoughts on aero engine technology for the benefit of our readers.
To make an aero engine you need three things. First of all, you need to design an engine, which is an aeronautical and mechanical problem. Then you need the materials, which can withstand those high temperatures and stresses. Third, you need precision manufacturing to make precision parts, which go into the engine for the tolerances as the engine rotates at 30 000 RPM revolutions per minute. So you need the precision manufacturing and then you need a system engineering capability to marry all. So, it is not just that you have the materials, you can make an engine. It is not that if you have only manufacturing, you can make an engine. Hence, all of these three and the system engineering of combining the knowledge of all three is what is required. As I said, we have good capabilities in all three, but the system engineering capability that we had at that point when we started the programme was not sufficient to predict the thrust requirement. So, we made a design with expecting that we would meet the thrust of LCA, but when the engine was realised, we were not able to achieve that thrust. But that engine, as I said earlier, is not going to be a waste. It is going to be used in another application. Now we have learned a lot, based on the experience of Kaveri, which is a fourth generation engine. Now the engine technology has moved to sixth generation. Therefore, rather than again taking a risk by developing it on our own, we want to work with another OEM, which has some,experience and have developed fifth generation engines, which are currently being used worldwide. We will work together and together develop a sixth generation. it not only cuts down the time for development, it also cuts down our risks. This is the approach we are taking.
  • Is it possible that India could do it alone?
I am sure we can do it alone but the time taken will be longer. Hence, to cut down the time taken, we should do it in a part machine because as I said it is a very challenging technology--the tolerances, you see in the turbine, the metal blade, the turbine blade operate at a temperature--the gas temperature which is impinging on the turbine blade is higher than the melting temperature of the metal, which is being used. Thus, your skill is required to cool that metal from inside and it's is a very cutting edge technology. That is why only very few countries have mastered it. However, I am sure the capability exists in the country to master it, but time it will require and the risk involved is high. Our appreciation at this point is that it is better for the country to work in collaboration with another country to develop this next generation engine.

  • There is criticism reported in the media about the Arjun main battle tank and the Tejas light combat aircraft. Would you like to share what was the work done on both these systems to make them acceptable for the users?
There is criticism about the Arjun, which is actually one of the best tanks in comparable performance with T90. It has outperformed T90 but it has a sustenance issue. The numbers ordered for Arjun were very low so what happened is that the indigenization of those components like the transmission and the engine did not happen in the country. These components are subsystems, bought from foreign country, because the numbers ordered by the Army was only 108 in the first go and now 112 in the second go. The numbers were not sufficient to indigenize those subsystems in the country. So, they did not get. Now we are taking up the effort. The sustenance has become a problem because when they want those spare parts, there are not available from the vendors. This is the main challenge with the tank, otherwise it's an excellent tank. which outperforms the T90.

  • Tell us something about Sangraha, Divya Drishti electronic warfare systems, developed by DRDO.
These are electronic warfare systems, which have been delivered to the Services. They have performed their role very well and now we are developing the next generation electronic warfare systems. As you know, in electronics things keep changing, so the electronic warfare systems, we are now developing for the next generation systems. These systems have performed very well in the Services.
  • What do you think is the reason for the slow pace of indigenization of defence manufacturing despite many achievements and abilities shown by DRDO and other organisations?
As I said it is related to the orders coming in. See if there are no orders, no industry is willing to set up capacity and produce. Only when the situation changes, as it happens now, in the next five years you will see 80 to 90 per cent of all our defence procurement will happen from Indian sources. We have already reached 70 per cent. Earlier, we used to import 70 per cent of our defence procurement. See, when you are not buying domestic equipment, why would industry set up manufacturing facilities? Now that the government has made a clear policy, for which I would like to thank our PM and RM for having this strong policy of Aatmanirbharta and Make in India. Once these policies came into being, you see the growth of defence manufacturing. Last year, more than one lakh crore worth of defence equipment from indigenous manufacturers was acquired through MoD for our services. This number will keep increasing and as I said by another four five years we will reach 90 per cent of our defence acquisition. So, there will be a huge demand or huge growth in our defence manufacturing industry.

  • The Government of India and the RM are giving more importance to Aatmanirbharta in defence production, but what is practically seen is the role of private players, MSMEs in Aatmanirbhar Bharat is not that much inspiring as it should be. Where does the problem lie?
It is happening now. What you say was in the past. Now this transition has happened. You see these numbers. You talk to me in three years. You will see that currently most of the indigenous orders go to PSUs. 70 per cent of the indigenous orders go to PSUs and 30 per cent to the private sector, but in the next three to five years, you will see the reverse, 60 to 70 per cent will be done through the private players. MSMEs provide the back end. You see when you make a large defence system, the order goes to large companies like HAL or BEL or L&T. But they don't do all the manufacturing. No large company in India today can produce everything on their own. They depend on MSMEs for all the production.

  • Against the backdrop of ISRO’s successful Chandryaan 3 mission, what is your message to the nation as the Chairman of DRDO?
My message for the nation is a lot of things that DRDO does cannot openly be talked about. Unlike ISRO, which is a civilian organisation, DRDO is a defence R&D organization. Lot of things that we do provide, the kind of deterrence which the country needs, we don't talk about. So, we are not able to highlight a lot of our achievements because for the nation’s defence, it is better that those are not known. But I can also assure you that over the next three to five years you will see a lot of tactical systems, which we can talk about, developed by DRDO, being produced within the country, and being used by our Services. Hence, my message to our countryman is the DRDO is on the right track and it will continue to make the nation proud.

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Why the heck no one asks about UVLS and some major missile programs?
to be fair UVLS is a highly technical matter, and it is possibly handled by R&DE(E). So they have been very careful since the fiasco, even the labs tenders are all NDA now, extremely tight handed security & scrutiny implemented there in Pune. Nothing comes out unchecked.

Missile programs, they said they are making ~ 40 new ones based on active projects. I guess tests will happen in next few months.
Dr Kamat said something about Mk1a induction at the end? first jet to be inducted by end of 2024 or 2025? This is from yesterday, I guess after the IIT BHU event.

Good part of the Agni related disclosure report was this, DRDO working on high power microwave weapon which seems a priority. This was posted and analysed by Hellbent sir before.



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DRDO township Kanchanbagh Durgapujo 2023 :love:
Attended by the chairman himself and the entire missile cluster heads. RCI director is Bengali himself, Shri Anindya Biswas, IIT KGP Mtech ECE alumni.
Also you can see DG MSS U Raja Babu sir, ASAT director before. The white shirt and blue trouser worn person who lit the candle after Rajababu sir at 2:50 min mark, is likely the ASL director, major contributions in K5 project propulsion and other interesting projects, SLCM, K4 veda A1P you name it. GAS Murthy sir was beside Dr Kamat when the camera took a group view.
Overall a grand opening.