Antony hits out at DRDO for delays in strategic projects

Last Updated 29 May 2013, 14:14 IST

Defence Minister A K Antony today came down hard on DRDO for delays in strategic projects such as the Light Combat Aircraft, saying there is a "limit to time slippages" and that it should "perform or perish".

Addressing a DRDO awards function, he said the DRDO should focus on its core competence and "not fritter away its resources and energy" and hoped that the LCA project would achieve its milestones within specified timeliness.

"In the times of cut throat competition, the choice is very clear-- perform or perish. In delivery of strategic systems, timelines must be adhered to and the satisfaction of the user is the litmus test," he said.

Antony said in military development projects across the globe, it was a "herculean task" to meet timelines and there were time slippages but "there is limit for slippages".
"Do not think that I am criticising you, I am with you in all times but as the Minister of Defence, it is my duty to say some things to you," he said.

On the LCA programmes, he said, "I am waiting that the LCA should become a reality. I have been given a particular date by the DRDO and I hope that it is the final date and the aircraft gets its Initial Operational Clearance II."

The IOC-I of the LCA was held in January 2011 in Bangalore and its IOC-II was scheduled to be held in July but it has now been postponed to be held in November.

Antony asked the team of HAL, DRDO and the IAF to work together on the LCA project and ensure that it achieves the IOC-II and then the Final Operational Clearance by the end of next year.

Antony said the government would provide all types of support to the DRDO for meeting its targets and help it in overcoming its difficulties in both financial and manpower terms.
He cautioned the premier research agency against time and cost overruns in completion of projects.

Cautioning against the dependence on imports for military hardware requirements of the armed forces, he said, "Countries depending on imports can never be great nations."
He said however close a friendly nation may be, it will not pass on the latest state-of-the-art technologies in defence sector and the only answer was to increase indigenisation.

The Defence Minister said the route of forming joint ventures with foreign vendors also provided ample opportunities but in these cases, all procedures must be adhered to "otherwise they can create problems at a later stage".

He also bid farewell to present DRDO chief V K Saraswat and credited him for the successful test firing of the Agni-5 long range ballistic missile project.

Addressing the conference, Saraswat demanded for infusion of more funds and manpower into the DRDO for meeting its targets in the specified timelines.
He said his organisation was working on several critical projects including space-based electronic intelligence systems, space denial systems and protection of country's assets there.

Antony said the security environment in India's neighbourhood, civil strife and turmoil in the Middle East, terrorism and threats to cyber security, piracy, illegal seabed mining in Indian Ocean and space-based threats present complex challenges to our defence capabilities.

"These require both conventional, as well as latest technological responses," he said.
He expressed happiness over the fact that "a large number of major systems are under production and the cumulative production value of all the DRDO developed systems has crossed Rs 1,55,000 crore".

"I am sure in the coming years, this figure will go even higher. DRDO must make relentless efforts to accelerate the pace of self-reliance," he said.

(Published 29 May 2013, 14:14 IST)

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