DRDO celebrates 66th Foundation Day - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 3 January 2024

DRDO celebrates 66th Foundation Day

DRDO chief: Five “young scientists laboratories” will be our torch bearers in developing emerging disruptive technologies

By Ajai Shukla

2nd Jan 2024


The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) celebrated its 66th Foundation Day on Monday, with its chairman, Samir V Kamat, paying tribute to one of its icons -- former president and chief, APJ Abdul Kalam. 


Kamat expressed happiness that Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) had been accorded this year for the induction into service of DRDO-developed systems worth more than 1,42,000 crores.

This is the highest ever induction into service of DRDO-developed systems in any year and constitutes a significant component of Aatmanirbharta in defence production, said the ministry of defence (MoD) in a press release.


Kamat mentioned that on the National Technology Day, on May 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Rare Earth Permanent Magnet (REPM) plant at IREL Vizag to the Nation. This plant was set-up using DRDO Technology.


Kamat set the target for DRDO to ensure that the systems which are under user trials, or under final stages of developmental trials, get accepted by the user in 2024, so that they are ready for induction. 


The DRDO chief said that indigenously designed and developed Heavy Weight Torpedo (HWT) “Varunastra” was successfully test fired by the Indian Navy with a live warhead against an undersea target on Jun 5. He said this was the first-of a-kind demonstration in the country.


Kamat also mentioned firing the Astra Mark 1 air-to-air missile from the Tejas for the first time, and about landing the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Navy on the indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant.


Also cited was the deployment of the DRDO’s D4 air defence system at Rashtrapati Bhawan, to supplement defences for the G-20 Summit, the Republic Day Parade and Beating Retreat Ceremony.


The DRDO chief further revealed that its new manufacture – the oceanographic research vessel ‘INS Sagardhwani’ – embarked on Sagar Maitri Mission-4 to Oman to establish long-term scientific partnerships with Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) countries  in “Ocean Research and Development.”

The DRDO chief also highlighted the successful Crew Escape System (CES) for the Gaganyaan programme, which was tested successfully.


Kamat pointed out that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had appreciated DRDO in their report submitted to Parliament last week. The DRDO chief recommended increasing the budget of defence R&D. 


He said that DRDO laboratories should focus on developing complex, first of its kind systems and on developing advanced and critical technologies, which will enable the country to become “Atmanirbhar Bharat” and a leader in defence technology.


Chairman DRDO highlighted some other success stories in his speech. He stated that it was a matter of great pride for all of us when the PM flew in the Tejas LCA Trainer on Nov 25. 

Kamat said that the DRDO had filed more than 141 patents this year, while 212 patents were granted. He hoped that this number would increase significantly in the years to come. He further stated that five “young scientists laboratories”, which were started by DRDO in 2019, were going to be our torch bearers in developing emerging disruptive technologies. 


He mentioned that 15 DRDO-Industry Academia Centres of Excellence (DIA-CoEs) had already been sanctioned several projects. This would enable DRDO laboratories to seamlessly transition some futuristic technologies from low Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) to high TRLs.


In his address, Kamet brought out that DRDO has been partnering with them for realization of its systems. DRDO test facilities have been opened to the industries for utilisation. He pointed out that, so far, 1,650 ToT’s on DRDO developed systems have been handed over to Indian Industries. 


In order to make the Technology Development Fund (TDF) and allied schemes more effective, the defence minister had constituted a committee headed by Dr Anil Kakodkar (former secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy) and Dr Vijai Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog to suggest ways to fund cutting edge research, like what DARPA does in USA. Once the RM gives his approval we will implement this scheme in 2024.


He concluded his address by urging everyone to focus on achieving higher user satisfaction and incorporating artificial intelligence/machine learning in all our systems and technologies. He further said that each laboratory should appoint an Artificial Intelligence /Machine Learning champion to proactively pursue the inclusion of AI/ML in all our systems and technologies. 


Floral tributes were also paid to former DRDO chief, VS Arunachalam, who passed away in August 2023.

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