Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V K Saraswat fired a ‘guided and guarded missile’ during the inaugural of the Aero India Seminar in Bangalore on Monday.
“If the Indian Aerospace Industry has to grow, one Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is not enough. Private industries should step in a big way to propel the growth of aerospace. I have been hearing for many years that private players are coming in but I am yet to see them,” the missile expert said.
He said that along with the industry, academic institutions should join hands to grab opportunities that the defence sector is offering. Saraswat’s speech had multiple mention of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) programme, till recently kept under wraps. It is evident that the DRDO will use Aero India to put a spotlight on AMCA, which is currently maturing at ADA. “We have `80,000 crore worth of our own programmes in India, including AMCA, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs),” he added. The DRDO chief told Express that he cannot figure out as to why the Indian private industry is still not attracted to aerospace activities. “Possibly due to profitability and concerns of immediate returns. If the Indian aerospace activities need to catch-up with the lost opportunities, private industries must join hands with us. Today, our missiles programmes are 80 per cent indigenous and we would want the same or more to be achieved in the aerospace programmes as well,” Saraswat said.
On Saraswat’s call to the industry, former BEL director (R&D) and now CMD of Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, a private firm supporting India’s defence programmes, Col (retd) H S Shankar agreed that major industries are yet to take a plunge into defence programmes in a big way. “But, that’s not the case with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). We have been playing an active role in various DRDO projects,” he added. Echoing similar sentiments, CEO of Merlinhawk Aerospace Pvt Ltd, Bangalore, R Ramachandra Rao felt that SMEs have supported the Indian Aviation Industry for well over three decades, in small yet significant ways.