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Antony asks DRDO to build credible missile defence system

Indian Defence Minister A K Antony

NEW DELHI (PTI): Defence Minister A K Antony has asked the DRDO to prioritise the development of 5,000-km range ballistic missile while building a credible missile defence system for the country.

He also congratulated the Defence Research Development Organisation for developing the interceptor missile allowing India to join an elite club of nations possessing such advance technology.

"DRDO must demonstrate the capability to develop missiles of the range of 5000 km at the earliest. This is a challenge for the DRDO and I hope they will successfully meet this challenge at the earliest," he said here.

Antony was addressing a gathering of defence scientists who received the DRDO's annual award for excelling in their respective areas.

"The interceptor missile defence programme has taken India into the elite club of nations that possess the capability to demonstrate this technology. DRDO should now concentrate on developing a credible ballistic missile defence for the country," he added.

He also asked DRDO scientists to focus on the development of Mark II version of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun for the Indian Army and Kaveri Engine.

"The development of MBT Arjun and Kaveri Engine has been hit by delays. Development of MBT Arjun is a major milestone. But Mark II is another area of challenge. That challenge you have to meet," he told the gathering.

Antony also asked DRDO and Indian Air Force (IAF) to ensure on schedule the induction of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas into the force.

"After getting the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the LCA Tejas, we are moving towards its Final Operational Clearance (FOC). I am sure DRDO and IAF will work together to deliver Tejas on schedule," he said.

He added that the delays in the development of indigenous engine for the fighter jets had given more time for the induction of the LCA and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) for the IAF.

Pitching for indigenisation, Antony said the armed forces should place more faith in the DRDO's capability and should not always be keen on importing weapons systems and technologies.

"DRDO will have to reform and re-orient itself to keep pace with the technological changes and stay competitive... At the same time our armed forces too need to show more confidence in indigenous capabilities," he said.

He said, "Our dependence on imports should reduce and there should be a proper synergy between the DRDO, private and public industries in the defence sector, and the armed forces."

Asking the DRDO to strive to meet the high standards of quality and technology for the armed forces, he asked it to make the "satisfaction of the end user the litmus test of your endeavour."

While interacting with the reporters on the sidelines of the program, Antony emphasised the need for producing equipment needed by the armed forces.

"We want 100 per cent indigenisation. We must be able to produce to the maximum extent and become self-reliant in the area of defence," he said.

On whether the Ministry has taken any decision on the controversy over the age of Army chief General V K Singh, he said, "Whenever government takes a decision we will certainly tell you. I don't want any public debate on the issue."


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