Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The DRDO Mess

Admiral L Ramdas, a former chief of staff of the Indian Navy:
"The Indian armed services' experience with DRDO-made armaments has not been a happy one. Their reliability is often extremely poor. We often used to joke that one had to pray they would somehow work in the battlefield."

That sums up the state of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Some examples:

MBT - Main Battle Tank
  • project launched in 1974.
  • failed to meet service level requirements - too heavy and undependable for combat.
  • army prefers to use it for training. Arjun Tank - nowhere in sight.

Nuclear Powered Submarine

  • launched an incredible 31 years ago - not yet finished.
  • estimated spending till date - Rs 3000 Crores.

LCA - Light Combat Aircraft

  • launched 1983
  • failure to develop a reliable engine for it.
  • with imported engines too - there is no inducted flights in sight yet. The LCA Puzzle.


  • project launched 19 years ago.
  • estimated expenditure - Rs 250 crores.
  • DRDO expressed confidence that it would be inducted into service by 1994.
  • after evaluation Navy went in for Israeli Barak Missile system.
  • project is likely shelved as per reports.

Agni - III

  • tested recently and failed to deliver, has been in development since 1999.
  • largely seen as technology demostrators, as extensive field trials is not something that DRDO normally does before declaring it a success.

We sure have good scientists too - but what is going on here?

Reasons for failures remain the same - as they would be for a public sector behemoth ~ lack of accountability. At this rate: What will happen to the operational readiness of our defence forces?


At 12:37 AM, Blogger Vin said...

This is very sad state of affairs in defence. The reason is the corruption there.....
there was an article (will publish it if i get the link)... which talks of corruption. Eg: if a switch is needed for a tank, then they call for tenders. Then what happens is the amount of bribe the company offers. This bribe is for the entire hierarchy. so the result is poor quality stuff for our our tankers etc....

U remember the scam.. where crores were spent for glasses that help you to see thru dark. The glasses never existed.

There are many more.

At 12:47 AM, Blogger Vin said...

linked u on my blog :-)

At 3:14 AM, Anonymous silkboard said...

And somehow, if anyone talks the way you did AKD, people say hush hush, don't say these "unpatriotic" things!

Armed forces may be better off because they have their own discipline systems in place. But DRDO, HAL etc - I bet they are just like other public monopolies. Might even be worse because govt wouldn't like to highlight any of their failures.

At 4:00 AM, Blogger PizzaDude said...

Hey! Thnx for commenting on my blog. Your articles are quite thought provoking. Hmm....

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Apun Ka Desh said...

vin> this is not surprising. not just corruption but plain lack inefficiency and laziness - well isn't this to be expected when we keep discounting meritrocracy?

SB> yes true. Infact DRDO/HAL etc. have a veil of secrecy too thrown around them - this further prevents any reasonable knowledge of state of affairs.
And if we don't talk about such failures - that really is unpatriotic :).

At 4:24 AM, Anonymous ekawaaz said...

Dear Apun,

Thanks for highlighting the real mess in our prestigious organization. I am totally agree with your views that DRDO, ISRO and many other defiance organization are in mess today, Which really concern me as these organization are the main backbone of India Security. When Trishul and Agni 3 test fails, it did raise the eyebrows of many people all over India. That time Media also didn’t do any justice, they never highlighted why these test fail? As far as I know Agni test was scheduled for Dec 2006 so why DRDO or our Ministry done test earlier than that? Does this test a part of big conspiracy? Uncle Sam doesn’t want India to test any high range missile, so was his pressure or black mailing about Ind- US nuke deal? That forced India government to test agni ASAP so that its fails and we can get Nuke deal with US? Becuase I cant believe that Indian scientist are so dumb that after working more than 20 years on one project still cant deliver the project. So I don’t know about other people views but I can smell the conspiracy.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Ashish said...

Defence forces already know most of this. Hence they do not depend on only one supplier. They still go ahead and procure their equipment from the foreign supplier.
The main problem is the expectations that are generated about the DRDO and the money that is essentially getting wasted.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger How do we know said...

I am really worried about the battle readiness of our armed forces even now.. the Air Force at least, has not updated its combat ability in a long time. Its loooong overdue, but while Mr. George Fernandes ate up the money without a dakaar, the Armed Forces were left high and dry - both words used literally.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Apun Ka Desh said...

EkAwaaz, Ashish, HDWK>
MIGs went on crashing for decades, before anybody seriously thought of arresting this trend. Was the parts purchased for these ailing aircraftd defective? if so - why ?? Suitably highlighted in RDB recently.

While China has already sent a man into space - totally on its own, our folks are sleeping it out - and are good at grandoise announcements. Where are the results to show ???

At 1:22 AM, Blogger Ashish said...

For the Mig-21 issue, I believe it is because the machine is fairly unforgiving, and needs pilots to have a good training schedule on jet trainers, hence the need for the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer

At 4:41 AM, Blogger Apun Ka Desh said...

Ashish > Good Ponint.. and it goes back to the same thing... Advanced Jet Trainers purchase is being discussed/rediscussed for more than a decade now ! And they still haven't got it.

But why not - does it take a decade to finalize on a AJT. This raises suspicions that this is purposely kept on hold until sufficient kickbacks have been paid ?

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous ekawaaz said...

Hi Buddy

Just came to check any updates, hope you doieng well. Will bounce back later...

At 4:35 AM, Blogger Musings on India said...

Good post. I think the core issue is not whether we NEED these weapons but the PROCESS of developing these weapons. What the post probably highlights is that despite the fact that defence is considered a high priority sector, the PROCESS continues to suck. I cant imagine what might be happening with the rural employment guarantee program or some woman upliftment scheme.

At 4:52 AM, Blogger Apun Ka Desh said...

Musings on India:
Well said... one can imagine what happens to rural employment scheme and such.. these are just gimmicks with no follow through.

If we really want to generate employment - set the law and order right, ensure that setting up business as straight forward - this will give an unbelievable boost to Manufacturing Sector - which is employment intensive.

But, when we have proposals to promote people in important positions who are decision makers, based on their cast - and not performance - this is what you will get - half-baked inefficient not-working schemes - basically reflecting the state of their own merit-less positions.

If one wants to see what a honest, efficient bureaucrat can achieve - look at E.Sreedharan - the person behind Metro Rails in the country. It could easily have been one more govt. project with cost overruns and delays, and poor quality. But it turned out to be within budget, before time, and top quality. This is what a top bureaucrat can do. We need to value merit. next post on this top bureaucrat:)

At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shall we go in?
hydrocodone and acetaminophen

At 3:55 AM, Blogger mathan said...

Yes,it is to late, now arjun tank is best to Pak mbt 2000 , but army want light tank because army not have facility to cargo arjun tank, arjun is 59 ton with 120mm gun can kill mbt 2000 (or) T-84 (48 ton) at distance of 3.5 km, but for T-84 it should come less then 2 km to hit arjun and arjun have composite armor it difficult to kill, now India Gov should move fast to make arjun.

At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked in DRDO for about 10 years and I know personally many successful projects (some were delayed from the original schedules) which services have accepted - with appreciation because of the superlative performance of DRDO built systems.

The blog is meant only for "bashing"! and can't expect anything good happening in DRDO here.

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