New Challenges Ahead for DRDO
By Hemant Kumar Rout | Published: 07th January 2014 10:15 AM |
The new year poses greater challenges for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
This year, India is contemplating maiden tests of its longest range undersea missile K-4 and a newly developed exo-atmospheric interceptor missile besides the retest of indigenously developed missile Nirbhay which had failed in its first attempt last year.
Though the elite defence organisation last year conducted many successful trials of its indigenously developed missiles, it drew flak from Defence Minister AK Antony for many of its projects which are running behind schedule.
The phase-II of Light Combat Aircraft, which was supposed to be completed in 2008, is now scheduled to be completed in December 2015 while completion of phase-I of Naval Light Combat Aircraft has been pushed to December this year from March 2010.
Other important projects running behind schedule are Airborne Early Warning and Control System, long range surface-to-air missile and air-to-air missile. DRDO was expected to wrap these projects up by October 2011, May 2011 and August 2012 respectively but the deadline has been extended to March this year, December 2015 and December 2016.
However, the eventful 2013 saw augmentation of nation’s defence preparedness by adding new weapons. Successful test flight of 5,000-km range Intercontinental Range Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V, launching of long range cruise missile Nirbhay and continued successful user trials of Agni-I, Agni-II, Agni-III, Prithvi-II, Dhanush, supersonic BrahMos and interceptor missile B-05 during the year displayed the nation’s prowess and self-reliance in advanced missile technology development programme.
Last year also witnessed capacity building in existing and new strategic areas through acquisitions and development of new weapons and platforms which include commissioning of India’s biggest aircraft carrier 44,500 tonne capacity INS Vikramaditya on November 16, preceded by the launching of India’s own IAC-INS Vikrant and commissioning of deadly MIG-29K squadron into the Indian Navy.
Similarly, induction of first P-8I Boeing aircraft into the Navy along with joining of C-17 Globemaster-III and Pilatus PC-7MKII aircraft into the Indian Air Force consolidated the country’s hold in different strategic, logistics and training arena. Adding another feather to its crown of superior State-of-the-art nuclear technology, defence scientists successfully activated the atomic reactor on board INS Arihant on August 10.
Along with these highs, there were some lows as well. The devastating fire accident in frontline submarine INS Sindhurakshak at Mumbai Naval dockyard on August 14 claiming 18 lives including three officers was another big loss to the Indian Navy.
This year, supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was for the first time successfully test fired from an underwater platform and a newly acquired Russian warship INS Tarkash. However, the failure of sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay and pilotless target aircraft Abhyas in their maiden attempts left the DRDO bosses worried.
India launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant on August 12 at Kochi marking the end of Phase-I (IAC-I) of the project. Induction of the first fully Indian manufactured Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) at INS Dega, commissioning of INS Vikramaditya, Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv) Squadron, INS Sarayu and INS Trikand were some of good news for the country.