We want to standardize our weapon programmes: DRDO Chief Dr Christopher

Written by: Dr Anantha Krishnan M
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Bengaluru, July 01: Barely a month after taking over the reins of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Dr Sargunaraj Christopher says that he is keen to cruise on a flightpath that's less complicated.

In his first interview to media after taking over as the Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Director-General, DRDO, Dr Christopher said he has set his focus on touching base with labs that were crying for attention.

DRDO chief Dr Christopher

"I am definitely in the process of hearing from small labs that a DRDO chief never visited in the last many, many years. I am devoting my Sundays now to spend time for such labs, which contributed to DRDO silently but never got any attention," says Dr Christopher.

Size doesn't matter, delivery is the key

He said there are many small labs that are constantly innovating and receiving laurels from the users.

"Performance is the key for DRDO now, whether it is a small lab with 50 people or a massive complex with 5000 people," he says.

To a specific query from this Correspondent, whether the DRDO has put its hands on too many projects, Dr Christopher said, "I have already assessed the ground situation and you will see some initiatives very soon. Two-three labs working together on major programmes will become order of the day."

To another query of DRDO often making tall claims before achieving the final goal, Dr Christopher refused to give a direct response.

"Delivery is the key. I don't want to stand on the top of the roof and make tall claims. I am prioritizing my goals," the DRDO chief said.

Missile programmes slow on production front

Admitting that the some of the missile programmes are extremely slow on the production front, Dr Christopher said he had already taken stock of the projects during his recent visit to the Missile Complex in Hyderabad.

"We have too many varieties (missiles) and even the RM (Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar) has opined his views. We want several types of weapons. We are looking for standardizing our weapon programmes by clubbing them together. The idea is to make our weapons more efficient and make them in more numbers," says Dr Christopher, a native of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu.

He said he has set his vision to make standard production lines for faster delivery of DRDO-developed weapon systems.

To another query whether the Missile Complex enjoyed additional powers owing to the size and success of its programmes, the DRDO Chief said, "The IDGMP (Integrated Development of Guided Missile Programme) as envisioned by Dr Kalam was good. Now we need to put more impetus. Out of the total Rs 1,70,000 crore order value of DRDO systems now, almost 60 per cent comes from Missile Complex. No preferential treatment is given to any clusters."

Tejas MK-2 is the future

On the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, the DRDO Chief said that the programme has reached the final lap.

"Tejas Mk-1 is almost there and by March 2016 the FOC will be in. We have already begun the work on the next version. Tejas Mk-2 is the future," says the 60-year-old top radar scientist, who was appointed as the DRDO Chief recently.

He said he has already started the exercise of communicating to the youngsters in DRDO.

"I have started the exercise of meeting my people. I am spreading the message that we are second to none. I have told my team members that DRDO should achieve a milestone every three months," Dr Christopher concluded.

(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)

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