Millennium Post

‘Sequential decision-making key factor in DRDO earning bad name’

Scientific adviser to the defence minister, Avinash Chander, blamed the organisation’s style of ‘sequential decision-making’ as a key factor for the DRDO earning a negative reputation in terms of ‘timely delivery,’ ‘reliability’ and even ‘quality.’ He said this in an interview to Millennium Post.
He pointed out that the organisation, of which he is the new director general, had gained this disrepute on account of some of the major programmes like light combat aircraft (LCA), the main battle tank (Arjun), and a few similar projects. He also said that one should also be aware about the state of the technological base of the country that existed even two decades ago. It did not facilitate the scientific research and development that DRDO needed to do.

But more importantly, the ‘sequential’ decision-making like in the case of LCA, ‘If you do analysis of the situation, you first have the design feasibility, then you do prototype, then you produce two of them, then you produce nine more, then you will see the order and production, if you go on this way, you will never have production cycle, proper tooling, proper processes,’ Chander said.
He added, ‘If you want to go forward, you have to totally commit to the system. You cannot have a half-hearted approach to development and indigenisation. That is an important lesson we learnt.’

He also said that some of these programmes have their own production cycle. ‘A typical fighter aircraft of the LCA’s category will require a 15-year period of development. On top of that, perhaps we have been over-claiming, over-projecting some times. That has created this image problem.’
Chander said, ‘Now, our technology (base) is much better. Any new project we take, the uncertainty levels, which used to have at 80 per cent has now come down to 30-40 per cent. Because of this the time cycles will come Take the case of the Airborne Early Warning and Communication (AEW&C) aircrafts like the Embraers is on schedule. In case of Astra (the air-to-air missile) we had undertaken a complete design reconfiguration but still had it out by four years. Night vision devices, within two years or so we have developed a totally new capability.’

The new DG, DRDO is optimistic that the future of the defence technology and production in the country. In case of developing private sector capacities, Chander concluded, ‘Developing private capability is being discussed everywhere. Everybody agrees in principle that it needs to be done. Where it is getting bogged down is when to do it, where to do it and how to do it. That is a systemic decision.’
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