Indian defence minister, AK Antony, has defended the overall track record of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) saying that the criticism heaped on the country's premiere defence research agency for "time and cost over-run in many projects" was not fair as the 50-odd laboratory chain had helped India to develop strategic defence weapons and delivery systems.
Any country, he pointed out, would not make such technologies, available to another.
The defence minister was speaking on the occasion to mark the beginning of yearlong celebrations of the Golden Jubilee Year-2008 of the DRDO. The year 2008 marks the 50th year of the DRDO's services to the nation.
It was established in 1958 as major technology generator for the country.
Antony remarked that the DRDO had helped India achieve an appreciable level of self-reliance in defence technologies. Appreciating the effort put in by the organisation over the decades, Antony pointed out that a developing country like India, which did not even have a car of its own design till recently, had now ventured to develop complex weapon systems like a main battle tank (MBT), light combat aircraft (LCA), missiles and electronic warfare (EW) systems.
"I am confident that the DRDO has built the tacit knowledge and capability for system integration within the country. When they venture to make next version of the weapon systems/platforms in future, such delays must be minimised with proper project management and strong review mechanisms," he added.
Antony said that the successful launch of the Interceptor Missile System and the Agni-III extended range ballistic missiles by the DRDO had placed India in the elite club of a few developed nations with similar capability.
The DRDO, with about 30,000 people working in 50 laboratories across the country, had now emerged as a strong science and technology force.
He affirmed that the Indian Government was fully committed towards enhancing indigenous design, development and production of weapon systems. In this regard he mentioned that international market forces would certainly offer resistance in the country's import substitution endeavours. ''So, we have to work as a team and encourage private-public partnership to face the challenge globally in order to make our defence industries vibrant,'' he said.
Addressing the private sector industries, Antony said that they ought to focus more on building a research and development capability and quality assurance in manufacturing, thereby contributing towards the mission of self-reliance.
In his speech, Antony praised the scientific advisor MK Natarajan's efforts to bring about a corporate culture in the DRDO, and said that it was a welcome step that would help the organisation face emerging challenges.
Meanwhile, in his address, Natarajan said that the year 2008 was very special for the DRDO and over the last 50 years DRDO had grown multi-dimensionally.
Commenting on the LCA's Kaveri engine, Natarajan said that the project would be complete by 2011. He pointed out that the Kaveri project had already accomplished ninety per cent of the performance expectations and the DRDO had invited offers for technological collaborations for the continued growth and development of the project.
The DRDO has made the country self-reliant in strategic defence weapons and delivery systems and also provided the nation with an array of tactical battlefield systems like the LCA, MBT, missiles and an EW system.