AeroIndia 2009: Future challenges intense, opportunities immense, says Dr. M Natarajan
11 February 2009
Collaborations with foreign entities was there earlier as well, but essentially it was restricted to productionisation. Now we are talking from a position of some strength, particularly in design and system engineering, says Dr. M Natarajan, scientific advisor to the defence minister, and DRDO chief.
1. The defence sector is poised to enter into unprecedented cooperation with nations and corporations. How do you view the advent of such an era? What are the likely gains of such cooperation, and the pitfalls that we ought to guard against?
I am greatly excited about the possibility, opportunities of increased collaborations. Of course collaborations were there earlier too but essentially it was restricted to productionisation. Now we are talking from a position of some strength, I would say, in design and system engineering - so obviously this collaboration starts right with the possibility at the development stage itself.
The opportunities are indeed good because in a highly inter-dependant world it would be too difficult to simultaneously develop all the constituent technologies. For example, it could relate to propulsion- though you may be good in designing aero structures, aero-dynamics. You may have developed some capability in system integration, yet you may not be ready with the levels of expertise needed in propulsion technology in spite of having some manufacturing capabilities in license produced engines.
So, it's not in fact a handicap, if we team up with a partner country, or industry, to hasten your programme for development. For, then it is achievable in a shorter time span and also the overall maturity of the product is achieved to higher levels of satisfaction of performance.
The pitfalls, and this is equally true with certain types of sensors, as I mentioned this could be true of a sensor or a radar, or parts of a radar, because we can do signal processing very well in this country. We can do integration well, we can build an antenna, maybe the signal and data processor of electronic carriers or whatever it is could be sourced from other countries. So it gives you many opportunities to assess your own technology levels and integrate either at a modular level, or as a total module.
Now that depends on how much you are willing to compromise, and how much your collaborator is willing to part with. But, I think, as they see your competence and expertise to do such tasks, the willingness to cooperate increases because they see greater business opportunities, which is the reality of business.
Cushioning against the pitfalls is necessary since we must realise in today's globalised world, there are two distinct types of restrictions.