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Tag Archives: 2008
Express Investigation: Delayed Research; Delayed Organisation – Part – Four
23 yrs and first fighter aircraft hasn’t taken off
Amitav Ranjan , Siv Aroor
Posted: Wed Nov 15 2006, 00:00 hrs
New Delhi, November 14:
At its last meeting in December 2005, the General Body of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the society developing the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, recorded one fact: the Indian Air Force, despite official plans to ultimately buy 220 LCAs, would order only 20 aircraft.
And that the IAF had refused to push the order up until it’s convinced that the new 2010 deadline, the project’s third consecutive time over-run, would be met.
The IAF had more than a reason.
According to latest official figures that will shortly be tabled by the Standing Committee on Defence in a report for Parliament, available with The Indian Express, DRDO’s 23-year-old indigenous fighter aircraft programme, taken as a whole — including the radar, jet engine and Naval variant — would have wiped away a minimum of Rs 9444.5 crore by 2010. Aggregate cost over-run: Rs 4,094 crore. Delay: 12.5 years and counting.
By DRDO’s own testimony in June to the same committee, there are still “certain complexities,” although it claims it will produce the 20 LCAs on order from the IAF by December 2011. But that would still be understandable if the LCA was in any way ready.
Five months after the ADA meeting, Air chief S P Tyagi communicated in no uncertain terms to then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee that his force could not depend on the programme in the short term. Shortly thereafter, he told The Indian Express: “We have to see if it is a suitably modern aircraft when it is complete. Right now we just cannot take any decisions. We can only wait for initial operational clearance (in 2008).”
The implication: the IAF is not sure if the LCA would have slipped down a few generations by the time it’s inducted. But the Standing Committee only had this to say: “The Committee are constrained to note that, keeping in view the ever-increasing delay in operational clearance of LCA, early induction of the same as IAF squadrons seems to be an unrealistic proposition.”
Just how unrealistic it is is something that has come to characterize the LCA programme ever since its inception in August 1983, and culminating now in a gravely unready fighter aircraft that the IAF could have no choice but to induct in large numbers from 2012.
Consider the following: Despite a battery of nine test pilots who have been embedded with the LCA programme, the IAF has refused to officially certify any technological aspect of the LCA apart from its structural strength, until initial operational clearance (IOC). Air Headquarters said so, in a written reply to this newspaper. The clearance should have been achieved by 2007 but its new schedule is 2008.
After a four-year wait following the rollout of the LCA technology demonstrator in 1997 for a first flight, former Air chief S Krishnaswamy made out an official case in 2003 for a “limited series induction” of the aircraft to give the IAF a chance to familiarize itself. He told The Indian Express, “The LCA is not full in any way, each prototype is different. I was a staunch supporter of indigenisation but am also very critical. How long can you keep on developing a product?”
The eight promised Limited Series Production fighters, envisaged as a part of the Rs 3,301.78 crore second phase of the programme, are nowhere in sight. The LCA, which should have undergone weapons trials by 2003, will now only undergo “dummy” trials in December 2007 according to DRDO chief M Natarajan, putting a big question mark on the possibility of IOC by 2008.
The real problem: the HAL-DRDO multi-mode radar, the very brain that will guide the LCA’s weapons, is not ready. After spending Rs 166.8 crore since 1997, HAL has decided to bring in a foreign technical partner to bail it out. The radar has been tested on an HS-748 Avro, but persistent problems with software and its signal processor have forced HAL and DRDO to admit their failure.
DRDO has justified the delays and their impact on the IAF’s preparedness by pointing to a revision of the development strategy because of a foreign exchange shortage in the 1990s, US sanctions, re-designing composite wings for weapon definition after January 2004 and extensive on-ground and independent evaluation.
After a cost and time overrun of Rs 2,456 crore and 13 years since 1996, DRDO admitted to the Standing Committee in June that it could complete the Kaveri engine only under a foreign joint venture. Problems that have crippled the Kaveri, according to the latest DRDO testimony, include critical glitches in aerodynamic, aero-mechanical, combustion and structural integrity.
Most significantly, DRDO has admitted to the Committee that to improve performance and safety issues, a JV could be attempted. Former DRDO chief V K Aatre said: “When I retired (in August 2004), there were some loose ends in the programme involving the radar and jet engine. But I am surprised they have still not been resolved.”
The DRDO was pulled up in January by the Standing Committee to explain how the LCA’s delays would impact the IAF’s modernization. Their reply: “IAF only can state the possible impact of delay on modernization exclusively due to LCA.”
But at Air HQ, an unofficial and approximate damage analysis of the LCA’s delay, shared with The Indian Express, is to the tune of Rs 11,440 crore in forced upgrades (some variants of the MiG-21 that the LCA was to replace will be forced to serve till 2019-2021 at least) and stop-gap acquisitions.
This does not include the purchase of 126 fighters potentially worth Rs 30,000 crore that the IAF will shortly begin an acquisition process for. In an unusual move, the Naval LCA will use air data systems from Russia’s state-owned Rosobornexport, which will also create a shore-based test facility for the Rs 948.90 crore development. MiG Corporation will conduct a design review and be DRDO’s chief consultant.
Express Investigation: Delayed Research; Delayed Organisation – Part – Three
Arjun, Main Battle Tanked
Amitav Ranjan Posted: Tue Nov 14 2006, 00:00 hrs New Delhi, November 13:
Need to revamp, give us roadmap in a fortnight: Govt tells DRDO —-Manu Pubby Posted: Sun Apr 27 2008, 00:36 hrs New Delhi, April 26:
Need to revamp, give us roadmap in a fortnight: Govt tells DRDO
Manu Pubby Posted: Sun Apr 27 2008, 00:36 hrs New Delhi, April 26:
Barely a month after receiving the first ever external review report on the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the government has decided to revamp the research body to fix accountability and clear the way for more private sector participation and foreign collaborations.
In fact, the Defence Ministry has decided to move a Cabinet note for the overall restructuring of DRDO as early as next month to ensure that the reorganization starts off by the end of this year. To facilitate this, DRDO has been asked to submit a detailed revamp roadmap to South Block within a fortnight.
DRDO turns to NRIs to reverse brain drain
Rajat Pandit, TNN Mar 13, 2008, 03.09am IST
NEW DELHI: Pack your bags, return to India and work in the cutting-edge defence technology arena to bolster the country’s military strength.
Often lambasted for huge time and cost overruns in strategic projects, the Defence Research and Development Organisation now wants to add some solid NRI firepower to its armoury.
After losing close to 1,500 scientists to much greener pastures of corporate world just since 2002, DRDO is stepping up its ‘talent search scheme’ to lure NRIs into its fold through some ‘reverse brain drain’.
TNN Apr 12, 2008, 03.09am IST
NEW DELHI: Indicating that the Defence Research and Development Organization was in for a major revamp, defence minister A K Antony on Friday said cost and time overruns would no longer do in crucial defence projects.
“We are in the process of introducing several innovations to streamline and make more effective the entire defence product development and procurement process,” said Antony, while addressing the 32nd DRDO conference here.
“On the anvil are amendments to our procurement procedures, developing a healthy interface with the public and private industry through offsets and bringing about organizational improvements in DRDO,” he added.
TNN Jun 4, 2008, 02.05am IST
NEW DELHI: In view of some Western countries unwilling to part with strategic defence technologies, the government on Tuesday said it would further strengthen the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for providing strategic defence with suitable delivery systems.
Amid concerns expressed by members of a Parliamentary consultative committee on defence on project delays and poor quality of some products developed by DRDO, defence minister A K Antony told MPs that the research organisation has put India in an elite club with the development of interceptor ballistic missile system.
Arjun under fire, Army wants another MBT — Manu Pubby Posted: Sat Apr 26 2008, 23:54 hrs NEW DELHI, APRIL 25:
The latest round of user trials has made it clear that even after 30 years of development, Arjun Tank comes nowhere near meeting minimum operational requirements of the Army.
However, what is worrying the top brass is that DRDO’s insistence on inducting larger numbers of the indigenous tank will come in the way of a newer, better “Main Battle Tank (MBT) of the future” that is now required by the Army.
While Army HQ is not even thinking about extending its original order of 124 Arjun Tanks for two regiments, given that it is unacceptable for induction in the present form, the top brass is concerned that continued DRDO efforts on the Arjun will delay its requirement of a futuristic MBT.
No. RTI/02/2091/C/2011 27 Sep 2011To, Shri Prabhu Dayal Dandriyal 21, Sunderwala, Raipur Dehradun—248 008
Sub : Compliance of CIC Decisions
Please refer the subject decision of CIC 29 Jun 2011 received in this office on dated 03 Aug 2011
The information, as directed by CIC, is as under:
(1) File No. CIC/LS/A12011/000381