Industry must invest big money and show interest in developing aerospace products and help the armed forces to leapfrog into new war technologies, the country’s topmost defence scientist, Vijay Kumar Saraswat, said on Monday.
Current investments from the private sector in home-grown defence hardware, according to him, are tepid and ‘sub-critical.’
“We are looking at a new era of technologies and augmenting our manufacturing capabilities. The civil aviation sector has not taken military requirements as its own and that is the problem,” Dr. Saraswat, who heads the Defence Research and Development Organisation, and is the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said.
He was addressing over 1,000 delegates to the technical session of the two-yearly seminar that accompanies the Aero India show. The air show is to be held at the Yelahanka airbase from February 6 to 10.
Dr. Saraswat said private sector participation in this area had not taken off because most of the aerospace products go into the military systems not civil aviation systems.
“The DRDO has Rs. 80,000-crore worth development programmes. I still have to go to the HAL [public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.] or small manufacturers for components. We have to break this chicken-and-egg syndrome. Somebody has to take the initiative and work out business models,” he said.
For the kind of growth the armed forces had planned for themselves, ‘one HAL, one ADE or one ADA’ (defence labs, the Aeronautical Development Establishment and the Aeronautical Development Agency) would not suffice. Industry had to accelerate and increase investments in a big way “if you want India to become an aerospace and aeronautical manufacturing centre.”
Dr. Saraswat said the DRDO expected local companies to graduate to making large systems, future materials, engine technologies and take part in the coming Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, the medium multirole combat aircraft and its own Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft.
The DRDO and the Aeronautical Society of India are sponsoring the three-day seminar to be formally inaugurated by Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Tuesday.
Royal Aeronautical Society president Phil Boyle and AeSI president G.M. Rao, who is Chairman of the GMR group, were present.