The Army has asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to take in more uniformed personnel on deputation and to give specific roles to them as it focuses on indigenous weapons and cutting down on imports.
The Army currently sends its personnel on deputation to help the DRDO with projects specified for the force, as does the Navy. While the exact number of Army personnel on DRDO deputation is not known, the Navy currently has about 40 personnel deputed there.
“We currently have some small deployment to the DRDO, but we want them to take in a higher number of personnel. Also, these personnel should be given access to the actual labs where research and design work is being carried out,” a senior Army officer told ThePrint.
The officer said the deputed personnel are often not given the access needed to ensure that the Army and the DRDO are on the same page.
Another officer made a caustic remark about the situation, saying the deputed personnel end up spending more time in the mess than in actual labs.
Incubation period too long
While the armed forces are willing to look at indigenous products, sources said the DRDO’s incubation period was just too long.
“The time taken by the DRDO on some products is just too much. There needs to be a shorter incubation period. Many times, the forces have demanded a certain product, and by the time it comes out, it is more or less outdated, technology-wise,” a source said.
The forces are now willing to work closely with research firms to ensure that the process can be faster and more streamlined.
An example of this was the appointment of a Major General as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district, which will manufacture AK-203 assault rifles for the military under an Indo-Russian joint venture. The experiment has been conducted to see if things can improve if armed forces personnel take charge of their key projects.
Asked about the situation, DRDO sources said there are about 100 uniformed personnel on deputation, and the organisation has no issue in inducting more. Sources also denied the charge of limited access, saying the services and the DRDO are “on board” on all projects.
A source said uniformed personnel have been an integral part of DRDO, and a serving Major General is actually the director of an important lab, adding that uniformed personnel are given responsibility as per suitability.
Push to cut down imports
The three services are trying to cut down imports to follow the Narendra Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ push.
Speaking at a DRDO seminar this week, Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat had pitched for greater inclusion of indigenous technology in the armed forces, and asserted that India would fight and win the next war with home-grown solutions.
Rawat and Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh attended the launch of the Indigenous Defence Equipment Exporters Association in New Delhi Friday. Rawat said numerous initiatives had been taken over the past several years to indigenise the defence sector. “We remain committed to the ethos of indigenisation,” he said.