Saraswat Named New DRDO Chief

The government decided yesterday that VK Saraswat, Chief Controller (Missiles & Strategic Systems) at India's Defence Research & Development Organisation, will be the next DG of DRDO, and its attendant office as Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister. As I've posted earlier, Dr Saraswat is virtually synonymous with the Prithvi ballistic missile programme, though his recent renown is owed more to India's markedly successful anti-ballistic missile programme, Programme Air Defence (PAD) that has flourished during its test-phase overseen virtually single-handedly by him at DRDO Headquarters in Delhi. Losing out in the sweepstakes is Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace, though it appears the government wants him to focus his energies on the hypersonic cruise missile programme. Here's the official release that came in today:

Eminent missile scientist Dr VK Saraswat will be the new head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He will take over from M Natarajan on September 1, 2009 as the Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Director-General, DRDO. Dr. Saraswat is presently a Distinguished Scientist and Chief Controller Research and Development (Missiles and Strategic Systems) in the DRDO.

Padmashri Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat spearheaded the development of country’s strategic and tactical missile systems including the ‘Agni’ series of strategic missiles covering a range up to 3,000 kms. Dr. Saraswat, a Ph.D in Combustion Engineering, started his career in DRDO in 1972 at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad and was responsible for the development of country’s first Liquid Propulsion Engine. As Project Director ‘Prithvi’’, he steered the design, development, production and induction of the first indigenous Surface-to-Surface missile system into the armed forces. The successful testing of ‘Dhanush’ missile on board a moving ship with high terminal accuracy brought a new dimension in the national defence capability. As Program Director AD (Air Defence), Dr. Saraswat pioneered the concept of theatre defence system and integration of national Air Defence elements. He was Director, Research Centre Imarat (RCI) before taking over as CCR&D(MSS) in November, 2005.

Dr Saraswat is a forerunner in the development of number of critical missile technologies that were under denial due to the Missile Technology Control Regime, thus making India self-reliant in Missile Technologies. He has headed various committees of national importance. Dr. Saraswat has received several awards including Prof Jai Krishna Memorial Award of the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) and National Systems Gold Medal by the Systems Society of India. International Academy of Engineering, Russia elected Dr. Saraswat as a Member of the Academy and honoured him as an Academician.

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