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INTERVIEW
‘We Want To Improve the Indigenous Content And Reduce Import of Aeronautical Components’
Chief Controller R&D (SI and AE), Defence Research and Development Organisation, Dr Prahlada
Can you provide an update on the programmes you are involved in?
We are now initiating a drive for self reliance. We find that a very high percentage of material imported from abroad pertain to aeronautical-related items. So we want to improve the indigenous content and reduce import of aeronautical components. Beyond the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) ‘Tejas’, we have the Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA). It is on the drawing board and the Indian Air Force (IAF) is supporting us. We have already delivered ‘Nishant’ UAV to the Indian Army. They want a few more with better capability. The ‘Rustom 1’ Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) has had a successful flight and the ‘Rustom 1’ itself could get operationalised for the Indian Army and IAF. We have also taken sanction for an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator. We are building three Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Embraer 145 platform. There is now a requirement for three more of these.
 
Can you mention the steps being taken to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is available to handle these programmes?

DRDO will be handling aeronautical projects worth more than Rs 100,000 crore and Bangalore will be the primary centre for this as a large number of laboratories are already here. Another wind tunnel is also required. The current wind tunnel complex at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is 40 years old and it needs to be upgraded. There is no sufficient space there to locate one more complex, so we are looking at another location. We are advising NAL to move it to Chitradurga where we have an Aeronautical Test Range coming up.

At the old HAL airport in Bangalore the huge civil infrastructure is lying idle and we could use its facilities for design and development of aircraft e.g. MCA. We could also use the runway for flight testing and we have written to the ministry of civil aviation on this matter. We also want to build a design and development centre near the old HAL airport. We want to increase the number of Aeronautical Research and Development (R&D) labs within Bangalore. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is not sufficient and we may have to build one more. Bangalore is the most attractive place for aeronautical research, development, manufacturing, assembly, testing and production. The volume of work is so high that getting the requisite trained manpower will be a challenge.
 
 
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