YEAR-END REVIEW – 2010
This was an excellent year for the
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with the Light Combat
Aircraft Tejas passing stages to finally take wings,
unveiling of the Light Combat Helicopter and the Armed Version of ALH Dhruv and the Main Battle Tank Arjun finally getting bulk orders.
The Government also initiated a long-awaited restructuring of the DRDO to make
it leaner and give fillip to private sector participation.
Flight of Light Combat Helicopter
The indigenously designed and developed
Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), powered by Shakti
engines, undertook its inaugural flight on 29th March. It is laced
with Forward Looking Infra Red Imaging Technology, Laser Range Finder
facilities for target acquisition under all-weather conditions and data link
for network centric operations. The 5.5 ton capacity helicopter is due to get
its Initial Operational Clearance in December, 2011.
Version of ALH Dhruv
The Armed Version of ALH Dhruv, ALH Weapons System Integrated, ALH-WSI, was developed
by HAL and is presently undergoing integration trial for armament and
electro-optical systems. It is equipped with Forward Looking Infra Red and
Thermal Imaging Sights Interface, a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket pods,
Anti-Tank Guided Missiles and Air-to-Air Missiles.
The first LCA Navy, NP-I, rolled out
from the hangars of HAL, Bangalore on 6th July, ready for the phase
of Systems Integration Tests leading to Ground Runs and Taxi Trials with the
first flight due to take place next year.
Kaveri crosses another milestone
engine, being developed by the GTRE for the LCA Tejas,
was tested under simulated altitude and forward speed conditions in February,
2010. Another engine was integrated with the IL-76 at the Gromov
Flight Research Institute, Moscow for the Kaveri engine’s maiden Ground and Flight tests on 3rd
November. It marked another step towards obtaining certificate for flight
operations for the indigenous fighter jet engine.
The DRDO conducted the fourth in a
row successful test of the Interceptor Missile, in endo-atmospheric
mode at an altitude of 15 kms, at the Interim Test
Range (ITR), Chandipur in Orissa
on 26th July.
Brahmos Vertical Launched, and in high
was successfully tested from the state-of-the-art Universal Vertical Launcher
fitted on a moving warship, INS Ranvir, off Orissa coast. The Vertical Launcher will be fitted on three
Project 15A Class of warships being built at MDL,
Mumbai and three more on the Talwar Class ships being
built at Kaliningrad, Russia.
Block-3+ Version was successfully tested this month from ITR, establishing the
supersonic cruise missile’s mountain warfare capability with a new guidance
system involving large scale manoeuvring, steep dive and precision strike.
Vehicles handed over to Army
The DRDO handed over four
Nuclear-Biological-Chemical Recce Vehicles, based on
the Armoured Personnel Carrier BMP-2, to the Corps of Engineers of the Indian
Army in December, thus completing an order of eight Limited
Series Production (LSP). The Army has ordered another 16 NBC Recce Vehicles.
New Pilot Selections
The DRDO signed an agreement in New
Delhi this year with the IAF for series production of the Computerised Pilot
Selection System. Developed by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research,
New Delhi, it is a state-of-the-art embedded micro-controller-based system.
The Government approved the restructuring of DRDO on
13th May, following recommendations made by the Committee headed by
Dr. P Rama Rao, former
Secretary, Department of Science and Technology. Aimed at boosting Defence
Research and encouraging the private sector to participate in the vast Defence
Production and R&D efforts, the proposals envisage establishment of the
Defence Technology Commission with the Defence Minister in chair likely to be
functional in February, 2011, decentralization of DRDO management and merger of
some DRDO laboratories. The Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Agency
(ADA) will continue work with the LCA Tejas and the
Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) with the development of the Kaveri engine. The development of MBT Arjun
Mark-2 and Akash Mark-2 Missiles will also continue.
A new commercial arm of the DRDO is also proposed to be set up as a Private
Limited Company with a seed capital of about Rs.2 crores.