'If We Are Able To Satisfy The User With The MkI Products…, We Should Be Able To Export The Same To Other Countries When We Develop The MkII Version’
Chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Secretary Department of Defence R&D, Dr S. Christopher

S. ChristopherYou have spoken on the export potential in defence. Can you please elaborate what export are we looking at?

In the last Aero India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi categorically said that India seems to be the first in the defence equipment import and he was not proud of that. And DRDO as a defence R&D organisation should have fulfilled the requirement of not allowing imports. However, the question is if we are able to satisfy the user with the MkI products that we have made, we should be able to export the same to other countries when we develop MkII version. Especially, when there are several countries in and around India (specifically the East Asian countries) that are looking for our products.

Take the example of Pinaka rocket system. This was made for the Indian armed forces. The Indian Army accepted four regiments in the beginning. Now six more regiments for about Rs 14,000 crore have recently been cleared. The first version of the rocket, Pinaka Mark-I which is in service with the army has the range of 40 km with the margin of error of 1.5 per cent. In the Mark II version, (also called Guided Pinaka), we have increased the range to 60 km; and reduced the CEP (circular error probable) in MkIII. The army has come up with the revised specifications and are interested in this Mark III. In this situation, we feel that we can find somebody else who is interested in Mark II. It is much better ammunition with better capability and we are retaining the cost between MkI and MkII. We have made certain modifications and our production rate is also faster. Furthermore, we are looking at adding correctors to reduce the error. We have done our experiments with two systems in January 2017 and Mark III system is ready for further trials and production.

AEW&C is another example for potential export. We have spent so much time and energy in this programme, and based on that we got AWACS (I) programme where it will be the platform and mission system by DRDO based on AEW&C technology Airbus A330. Therefore, Embraer-145I AEW&C can be offered for exports. This system garnered a lot of interest during CAS’ visit to Indonesia and also at the Bahrain Air Show. Indonesia comprises about 16,000 small islands which needs monitoring and Bahrain can use AEW&C aircraft which they can use to monitor its oil wells. Interest is also shown by another south American country.

BRAHMOS cruise missile is another example. Being a joint venture between India and Russia, and owing to our mutually friendly relationship, exporting BRAHMOS will not be a problem. However, we have to converge on friendly countries.

There is a market for Akash missile system along with the Rajendra radar for the exports. We do have a history of exporting sonars and radars. Many Battlefield Surveillance Radar (BFSR) have already exported and other radars like Indra are in the pipeline.

FORCE editor Pravin Sawhney with Dr. S. Christopher
FORCE editor Pravin Sawhney with Dr. S. Christopher

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