FRONTLINE interview with DRDO chief Natarajan

FRONTLINE magazine has interviewed M Natarajan, chief of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in its latest issue (August 16-29) which contains a special focus on DRDO's golden jubilee. Excerpts:


"We are into a programme for the LCA. What started off as one project has become three: LCA for the Indian Air Force [IAF] and the Navy and a trainer version of the LCA… Naturally, when we draw a road map, we see the fructification of these three taking us to a medium combat aircraft, a multi-role combat aircraft with fifth generation technologies, where there can be commonality of parts with LCA in avionics or radar, and eventually, 15 years from now, building an unmanned aerial combat vehicle [UACV]... I see a good potential to build all together, about 1,000 aircraft, over a period of time. The LCA could be 400 in number for the IAF, 100 for the Navy; the trainer could be 150; the medium combat aircraft 250; and 100-150 for the UACVs."


"Nishant, the unmanned aerial vehicle we have built. It has done very well. But we are struggling to produce it in numbers because the production partner is not yet identified. The [DRDO] laboratory is doing the production. We are looking forward to encouraging greater private participation so that more Nishants can be produced in a shorter span of time."


Most people take note of a numerically quoted figure of the project value and the start date, a closing figure and a closing date, and try to decode a multiplication factor thereof, and say that the project cost had gone up by so many times. This is a simplistic way of passing judgement that does not speak the truth... I want to assure you that while the DRDO will take its share of blame – it is not the only entity to be blamed – there are others in the decision-making process. Yet, I would not wish to pass on the blame to them. I take the blame for the delay but we are giving products at a reasonable cost and they can be sourced at economical prices.

To read the full interview, go here.
All text Copyright Frontline

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