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No full-time DRDO chief, 6 major decisions stay stuck

These decisions concern breakthrough in the ammunition issue, serviceability concerns/ upgradation of Arjun tanks, firing of Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System, testing of mountain Electronic Warfare systems, among others.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | New Delhi |
May 26, 2015 1:29:10 am
drdo, drdo chief, india defence, india ammunition, india ammunition stock, chief of drdo, defence ministry, indian army, inian air fore, ar force india, india navy, india news A Parliamentary panel had recently pointed out that the ammunition levels within the Army have sunk below the critical level. The report had said that if the Army has to go on a war, the ammunition won’t suffice for even 10 days. “Had there been a full time DRDO chief, the matter would have been discussed by now,” said an official.

With the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) without a full-time head for over three months now, decisions regarding “at least six major projects” are pending.

These decisions concern breakthrough in the ammunition issue, serviceability concerns/ upgradation of Arjun tanks, firing of Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System, testing of mountain Electronic Warfare systems, among others.
Last month, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had to step in to take decisions in the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun case that would have otherwise been taken at the DRDO level.

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The 124 MBT Arjun Mk-I tanks inducted into the Army are facing serviceability issues. The Army has identified a total of 85 problems, including 13 major shortcomings. As for MBT Arjun Mk-II, upgrades such a Explosive Reactive Armour, improved night vision capability, advanced air defence guns have made the tank overweight.

“Now these issues need discussions, directions, clearances… Otherwise, the matter would have been resolved at the level of the DRDO chief who is also scientific advisor to the Defence Minister. But since we don’t have a chief, the defence minister had to step in… He has now appointed a committee under Special Secretary, Defence Production, to oversee problems regarding the Arjun fleet,” a DRDO official said.

A Parliamentary panel had recently pointed out that the ammunition levels within the Army have sunk below the critical level. The report had said that if the Army has to go on a war, the ammunition won’t suffice for even 10 days. A breakthrough in the ammunition issue is a DRDO matter and needs to be discussed and a solution needs to be found. “Had there been a full time DRDO chief, the matter would have been discussed by now,” said the official.

He added: “More clarity is required on the mountain Electronic Warfare system… while the system has been developed, there are issues pertaining to its configuration which need further discussion or clearances… Also in the pipeline are tests of multi-barrel Pinaka rocket systems. The trials were to begin in a month or two but there are issues pertaining to trial ranges.”

A go-ahead is also awaited on the firing of Advanced Towed Artillery Guns System scheduled for September.

Before he retired on Sunday, defence secretary R K Mathur had been holding the additional charges of DRDO secretary and scientific advisor to the Defence Minister since January 31 after then DRDO chief Avinash Chander’s contract was terminated. Mathur had been regularly holding crucial Defence Review Committee meetings once in every 14 days. Important decisions, clearances and directions on various projects are issued during DRC meetings.

The DRC meetings, which were held every Tuesday by former DRDO chief V K Saraswat had become a fortnightly affair under Chander.

Despite repeated attempts, DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta was not available for comment on the pending projects.

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