Don’t extend Tejas deadline, Antony tells DRDO

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Defence Minister A. K. Antony Saturday asked the DRDO not to extend the date of final operational clearance of indigenous Teja light combat airfract beyond 2014 and said there was no substitute for self-reliance.

Inaugurating the 37th Directors’ Conference of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) here, Antony said it will have to take the lead in achieving the goals of indigenisation.

An official press release said the minister asked DRDO to conclude at the earliest the unfinished projects which were in pipeline for a very long time.

‘In this connection, he drew the attention to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project and said DRDO must not extend further the date beyond 2014, set by the DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat, for the Final Operational Clearance of the Tejas for induction into the Indian Air Force,’ the release said.

Antony asked the DRDO scientists to focus on priority areas and said ultimate test of success of the organisation lies in the satisfaction of the users – the three services.

Antony referred to ‘some recent developments which have put the defence acquisition process under the scanner’ and said ‘such incidents highlight the need to look within and make us realise that there is absolutely no substitute to self-reliance’.

‘If our indigenisation goals are to be realised, DRDO will have to take the lead in this regard. Other stakeholders, for instance, the services, the ministry of defence and private industry in the defence sector, too, must cooperate to ensure quick, honest and transparent acceptance of the systems,’ Antony said.

He said all the stakeholders must meet at regular intervals to undertake periodic reviews and suggest corrective action.

The minister said both DRDO and the services must place more trust and confidence in each other’s abilities and work with close synergy.

‘The concept of block acceptance and spiral development that is being followed in most leading countries of the world must be embraced after due deliberations and required changes,’ Antony said.

Responding to the DRDO’s request for an enhanced budget, Antony said allocation of funds will not be a constraint but at the same time, spending the money most judiciously and with transparency must be the watchword.

He said continuous funding would be required for research and development.

‘But with more emphasis on indigenisation and self reliance, we would save a lot of money in the long run, although we might have to invest more to begin with,’ he said.

He also complimented the top brass of DRDO for their achievements in recent years including Agni-5 and the BrahMos missile systems.

The conference was also addressed by Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.