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Research Reforms Spell Major Implications for Indian Military-Industrial Complex

© Photo : DRDODRDO Successful Flight Test Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile
DRDO Successful Flight Test Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile - Sputnik India, 1920, 28.05.2024
Indian government has introduced institutional reforms in state's defence sector, including the corporatisation of the country's Ordnance Factory Board, the public sector ordnance factories that manufacture ammunition for the country's armed forces.
The sweeping reforms of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will lead to cost-effective indigenous weapons production, a military veteran, Lieutenant Colonel (retd) J.S. Sodhi told Sputnik India on Monday. He noted that DRDO needs serious reforms as its projects for the Indian armed forces are inordinately delayed.
Defence Research plays a pivotal role in the Military Industrial Complex of a country which is quintessential in a nation becoming strong militarily, the retired Indian Army officer highlighted.

"Once DRDO delivers in specified time schedules, the defense technology will be available to the Indian Military Industrial Complex at much cheaper costs than importing them which will result in cost-effective weapon systems being made in India".

Meanwhile, the Narendra Modi-led government is moving ahead with the implementation of suggestions made by former Chief Scientific Advisor to India, Prof K. Vijay Raghavan, who recommended an overhaul of the country's premier defence research agency.
Sodhi explained that Raghavan's report has suggested good steps that can make DRDO improve its performance.
The proposals include reforming the mechanism to prevent delays in projects undertaken by the DRDO, formulating norms for evaluation of scientists, and encouraging participation of the private sector, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and academia in defence technologies.
Moreover, it will establish a financial framework for research, create a project management and procurement system, and fully digitise processes in the organisation.

DRDO's Landscape Set For Major Overhaul

With this in mind, Sodhi pointed out that Russia, the US and China have good defence research and therefore the world's largest defence industries.
He underscored that the reforms proposed by the Raghavan Committee were just as important as sound and robust military-industrial complexes such as noted countries have all these factors built into their domestic defence research and production.
"All these parameters complement each other which results in an efficient Military Industrial Complex. Thus, the Raghavan Committee has very deeply analyzed the issue and has made good recommendations," Sodhi summed up.
It is worth noting that while the DRDO has made considerable progress under Modi's tenure, it is still grappling with issues that are unbecoming of a nation's premier defence research organisation.

DRDO's Fighter Jet Engine Development Fiasco

For example, DRDO's quest to develop an indigenous fighter jet engine has yet to bear fruit after more than four decades.
In the 1980s, DRDO began developing the Kaveri engine for India's indigenous fighter jet, the LCA Tejas, but after failing to overcome technical challenges, the project was abandoned in 2008.
As a result, the New Delhi-based government organisation had to buy engines for the LCA Tejas from US aerospace giant General Electric Aerospace.
After its unsuccessful attempt to develop an engine for the LCA Tejas, the DRDO is now working on a 110 KN thrust engine to power India's next generation fighter aircraft, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Mark 2.
The first AMCA is expected to enter service in 2035.
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