Choice is to perform or perish, Antony tells DRDO

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) The final operational clearance of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) should not be extended beyond 2014, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said here Wednesday.

The timeline should be strictly adhered to by the DRDO and the choice was to perform or perish in an age of competition, the minister said.

Speaking at a function after presenting the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) awards, Antony said the premier research organisation must show results in priority areas in a reasonable timeframe.

“In the times of cut throat competition, the choice is very clear – perform or perish,” he said.

He said DRDO should focus on areas of its core competence and not fritter away its resources.

“I am waiting for the day when LCA becomes a final reality. Final operational clearance in 2014… that should be the determination of the entire DRDO team,” Antony said.

“Timeline should be strictly adhered to. Satisfaction of end user is a litmus test,” Antony said.

He said delays lead to cost and time overruns. “Gone are days of delayed deliveries,” he added.

He noted that slippages in timelines could take place, but there was a limit to this.

“The 155 mm gun also becoming a reality. I am waiting for that day,” Antony said. The 155 mm artillery gun is being developed by Ordnance Factory Board, Jabalpur.

Antony asked DRDO scientists to have a “killer instinct” in their work.

He said indigenous content in defence production was low and foreign vendors were reluctant to part with critical technologies.

Antony said that the security environment in the neighbourhood posed challenges to defence capabilities and there was need of latest technological advances.

Noting that India continues to be the largest importer of defence equipment, he said no country would pass its state-of-the-art technology even if it has close relations with the buyer country.

“We can’t be eternally dependent on foreign players,” he said.

Antony said the defence procurement policy (DPP) had been revised with the aim that India should have modern defence industrial base in public and private sectors.

He said the DPP had made it mandatory that first choice for purchase of defence equipment was “made in India” and import was the last choice.

Complimenting DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat for working to improve performance of the organisation, he said that the media talked about its failures some years back.

“The DRDO was getting brickbats… Gone are the days,” he said.

He said cumulative production value of all the DRDO developed systems has crossed Rs.1,55,000 crore.

“All the major countries want joint exercises with our forces,” he said, and added that country’s defence forces were recognised as one of the best in the world.

He noted that the test flight of the Agni V missile in 2012 was a major achievement of DRDO.

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