'LCA-Naval variant being unfairly discredited'

Saraswat says Aero India not helping India grow self-reliant

'LCA-Naval variant being unfairly discredited'
NITI Aayog member and former Director-General of DRDO V K Saraswat defended the LCA-Naval variant and said that those who do not have confidence in the aircraft are making lame excuses.

The Navy version of the indigenously-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was rejected by the Indian Navy on the grounds that it was ‘not up to the mark’. Saraswat said that the problems they pointed out could be easily rectified. He was speaking at an international seminar organised by the DRDO and Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI) as a prelude to Aero India 2017.

Saraswat said the media and others were bad-mouthing the aircraft developed by DRDO, saying that it did not meet the Navy’s requirements without having all details. In December, the Navy chief had said that the LCA-Navy was overweight and would not suit their aircraft-carrier operations.

On the topic of the seminar ‘Aerospace: Technology Collaboration and Self Reliance’, Saraswat said that investment in research & development (R&D), involvement of private industry and developing aerospace skill sets were necessary for India to become self-reliant.

“Aero India has been happening for several years now. While we do get exposed to the international defence industry, we need to ask how many business deals we are getting out of it. I don’t think Aero India is contributing significantly to making us self-reliant,” Saraswat said. The scientist further said that India should capitalise on the opportunities presented by the growing demand for commercial aircraft within the country.

S Christopher, chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) stressed on the importance of collaboration. “DRDO has several programmes for which we are collaborating with companies and institutions. Such combined efforts can help our country become self-reliant in defence and aerospace,” he said. Christopher added that without collaboration, it would not have been possible to build India’s first indigenously developed Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system, which is to be inducted into the Indian Air Force at Aero India 2017.
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