BALASORE: The tests of a couple of missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have been put on hold on administrative grounds.
If sources are to be believed, the scheduled tests of nuclear capable 4,000-km range ballistic missile Agni-IV and Advanced Air Defence (AAD), dubbed as ‘Ashwin’, have been deferred as the Centre is yet to give the green signal to Launch Authorisation Board (LAB).
As the last trial of Ashwin on April 6 had failed, the DRDO scientists were working on the mission meticulously to make it a grand success.
In fact, the DRDO had requested the State Government to impose marine fishing ban in a radius of 30 kms from the coast of Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Puri districts from September 29 to October 1 for the proposed test from Integrated Test Range (ITR).
The ban on fishing, first of its kind in the history of any missile test, was imposed in strict adherence with the Coast Guard and State agencies launching an awareness drive among the fishermen.
While DRDO sources said the tests were deferred apprehending its impact on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign tour, sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) informed that the PM wanted DRDO to complete the delayed projects first instead of going for repeated trials.
“Communication in this regard has been issued to the DRDO Chief after a review meeting on the performance. DRDO has about 535 ongoing research and development projects worth over `50,000 crore. But most of its projects, starting from the light combat aircraft (LCA) to air-to-air missile systems, are running years behind schedule with huge cost over-runs,” said an official.
The delayed projects include long range air-to-air Astra missile, advanced light weight Torpedo, dual colour missile approach warning system for fighter aircraft, air borne early warning and control system, aero engine Kaveri, Naval light combat aircraft project and long range surface-to-air missile.
Meanwhile, worried with the escalation of costs due to DRDO’s failure to complete the projects in time, Modi has asked all project in-charges to submit a monthly report. The Centre had recently separated the posts of DRDO Chief and Scientific Advisor (SA) to the Defence Minister. Earlier, the DRDO Chief used to hold three important portfolios - Director General of Research and Development (DG R&D), Secretary of Department of Defence Research and Development and the SA.
A Parliamentary Committee in its recent report had also criticised the work culture of DRDO while the armed forces, the users of DRDO developed products, had expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of equipment.
Contacted, an ITR official said the test teams from Bengaluru are camping here. “Though the dates have not been fixed, some missions are on the pipeline,” he said denying to divulge much on the proposed missions.