Hunt on to pick top brain to head India’s Tejas programme

By: Dr Ananta Krishnan M
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Bengaluru, June 28: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has begun the hunt for identifying a new man to head Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). This follows the impending retirement of PS Subramanyam, one of the longest serving bosses of ADA, on June 30.

A Distinguished Scientist, Subramanyam is currently the Programme Director (Combat Aircraft) & Director ADA. He was made the head of ADA in 2005.

Hunt on to pick up head of Tejas program

Sources tell OneIndia that the DRDO has already set up a Search Committee headed by eminent scientist Dr Vasudev Kalkunte Aatre.

[Christopher DRDO Chief; Satheesh Reddy Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister]

Seventy-six year old Dr Aatre, an active member in various aerospace forums now, is the former DRDO Chief and Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister.

The search committee also has DRDO's senior-most Director General (Aero) Dr K Tamilmani among others.
Sources indicate that mostly the new man will be an insider from ADA itself keeping in mind the continuity of the LCA programme.

Purely going by the seniority, work experience, project handling capabilities, and relationship with users, Cmde C D Balaji (Retd), Project Director LCA (Navy), should be the natural choice.

R Swaminathan, (Technology Director), General System, ADA, is another top brain capable of running the show.

While Cmde Balaji (Retd) has around two years of service left, Swaminathan has over three years to go before retirement.

Sources confirm that DRDO's new chief Dr S Christopher is landing in Bengaluru for a lightning visit to some of the facilities on June 28. A formal decision is expected on the ADA Chief on June 29.

ADA is an autonomous wing of DRDO set up for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme. It has grown over the years and has now become one of the significant military wings in India.

Among the top priorities for the new ADA Chief, the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of Tejas will be one crucial landmark to achieve. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has set December 2015 deadline for achieving FOC.

Priorities for new ADA Chief

* Tejas Final Operational Clearance (FOC)

* Tejas Mk-II project should take shape

* LCA Naval programme needs further push

* Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

* Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle

(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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