industry to meet the needs of the Indian Armed Forces with state of art ‘Indian Made’ weapons and equipment. However, the flaw of having ‘licensed production for a captive market’ belied those dreams.
The Indian Private Industries have limited exposure to the defence technologies, having been a license producer to a captive market, and denied any foreign sales till now. Even the academia has been kept away from it. It is this course correction that has now come about, and needs a careful calibration for it to succeed in the coming decades. A close co-operation at all levels to achieve self-sufficiency in attaining an Indian state of art defence industry would be essential, in the form of a public-private-academia enterprise. The need is of self-sustaining collaboration, rather than competition at this nascent stage. The competition would have to be with the global industry, the competition within would come much later.
It needs to be understood that the weapon systems and equipment consist of many subsystems, assemblies and sub-sub parts, which contribute towards the system as a whole. Upgrades to these also enhance the technological sustenance of these weapons and equipment. These are the low hanging fruits that the OFs, DPSUs, private industries and the Academia needs to target, to set a strong foundation for the Indian Defence Industry. With the DRDO, OFs and DPSUs having an established line of laboratories test benches and various facilities, these need to be shared based on the collaborative approach stated above.
The target should be to develop world class systems, subsystems, assemblies and sub parts and be providers of the same to the global defence industry. This would be the first step towards achieving necessary experience for the development of niche technologies, which should also develop parallel by the DRDO and the academia. The DRDO needs to be revamped, and move away from its desire to commercialise its products by themselves for financial gains. Research is capital intensive, and the auditors must not dictate terms based on a ‘profit and loss’ system. There is a need to accede to the lack of progress in a particular project, change tack with the positives derived from the previous experiments and accept the loss. Monetary loss cannot be weighed against the valuable experiences gained – that which will never be shared by other countries. It would be naïve to expect that companies that have formed JVs with own industries would share their R&D experiences till date. They would set shop here and start as if with a fresh slate.
The DRDO needs to have a very close interaction with the Academia, as also the Industry, to be able to absorb the plethora of existing and developing technologies, and be able to mature it as a usable defence weapon/ equipment within a viable timeframe. The DRDO needs to be re-vitalised and restructured into 3 x verticals, as under
Strategic Laboratories dealing with pure sciences, to study existing and emerging technologies and its applicability to the existing weapons and equipment, and for developing new generation of the same, either evolutionary or revolutionary.
Adaptive Laboratories, which absorb the technologies passed on from the Strategic Laboratories or as developed on its own and function in close co-ordination with the nominated lead integrator(s) and the other systems and assemblies developers to develop new generation weapons and equipment.
Convergence Laboratories,which absorb technologies passed on from the Strategic laboratories, or as developed on its own and function in close co-ordination with the OEM(s) for providing life extension programmes and upgrades to the existing weapons and equipment.