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DRDO sets in motion long-pending proposal to enhance efficiency

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India's premier defence research institute DRDO has set in motion a long-awaited process to usher in mega reforms aimed at helping it develop futuristic military weapons and support the government's initiative for bolstering the domestic defence production.

A committee headed by Prof V Ramagopal Rao, Director of Delhi IIT, has been appointed to suggest measures to improve the efficiency of the DRDO laboratories across the country to boost the domestic defence production, government sources said.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has over 50 laboratories across the country which are engaged in developing defence technologies covering disciplines like aeronautics, armaments, combat vehicles, engineering systems, missiles, advanced computing and naval systems.

"The move to enhance the efficiency of the DRDO is in sync with the government's focus on boosting the domestic defence industry," said a source, adding several measures have already been taken to improve the functioning of the DRDO laboratories.

The sources said DRDO chairman Dr G. Satheesh Reddy will oversee the implementation of the reform initiatives.

The government has already outlined its broad roadmap to make India a hub of defence manufacturing and has been taking policy initiatives to promote the domestic industry.

On August 9, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that India will stop the import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles and sonar systems by 2024.

The committee headed by Rao includes Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre S Somnath, Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sandeep Singh and Director, Instruments Research and Development Establishment of DRDO Benjamin Lionel, the sources said.

The committee has been tasked to recommend within the next one-and-half months specific measures to improve the efficiency of DRDO including on the charter of duties of all laboratories so that they can work on new technologies with a new approach while avoiding any overlap.

The DRDO has contributed significantly in developing various key weapons and military platforms for all the three services in the last six decades.

However, there has been a view in the government that the DRDO should enhance its efficiency further in sync with the government's focus on making India self-reliant in defence manufacturing.

The DRDO on Monday identified 108 military systems and subsystems like navigation radars, tank transporters and missile canisters for the domestic industry to design, develop and manufacture.

The premier organisation said it will also provide support to industries for design, development and testing of these systems on a requirement basis.

It has set a target of next year in developing the 108 systems and subsystems.

India is one of the largest importers of arms globally. According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around US$ 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years. The government now wants to reduce dependence on imported military platforms and has decided to support the domestic defence manufacturing.

The Defence Ministry has set a goal of a turnover of US$ 25 billion (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing in the next five years that included an export target of US$ 5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.

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