Safeguarding Space Assets
Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy, Chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Secretary of the Department of Defence Research and Development and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, opens up about his priorities – launch of DRDO’s Next Gen flagship programs, platforms specific to reduce major imports in defence. Excerpts from an interview with Aeromag:
As the chief architect of India’s path-breaking anti-satellite missile test Mission Shakti which is completing one year, how do you analyse the programme and could you explain the follow-up measures taken?
The importance of Mission Shakti lies in demonstrating deterrence in space and proving the country’s technological capability to provide protection for our space assets. It is intended only for technology demonstration.
As the Chief of DRDO, what are your priorities?
Launch of Next Gen flagship programs, platforms specific to reduce the major imports in defence is the priority. DRDO is taking major steps in the direction of ‘Make in India’ with defence corridors being planned by the Government of India. We have laid emphasis on NG MBT, LCA Mk-II, AMCA, new generation missile systems and HEAUV. The thrust would be to incorporate advanced technologies in design and development of flagship programs so that we are ready for meeting the futuristic requirements.
Artificial Intelligence would be a key factor in the modern battlefield. Please update us about DRDO’s programmes in this regard.
DRDO has been working in the field of Artificial Intelligence and the work is being majorly carried out at one of our laboratory, CAIR. Other laboratories like R&DE and VRDE are also working on autonomous technologies. To provide greater impetus for the research activities in the niche areas of AI, we have started a young scientist laboratory exclusively as a center of excellence with all scientists below 35 years including the director. It was dedicated to the nation by the Hon’ble PM recently. In addition, AI and Decision Support based technologies are being used for the development of futuristic systems.
Nations and non-state actors are adopting cyber warfare methods and India too is facing the threat. Could you reveal the programmes launched by DRDO and allied organisations for India’s defence on this front?
DRDO is working on the development of state-of-the-art cyber security systems to protect critical information infrastructure for defence facilities and installations. The technology ranges from separation kernel based operating systems to Artificial Intelligence enabled cyber security systems for detection of cyber threats and their mitigation.
India has now created history when its indigenous military jet, the Naval LCA, made a landing and take-off from the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya. Your views?
We are one of the few countries in the world having the capability to operate our own fighter aircraft from an aircraft carrier. This was possible through many years of painstaking research and development activities on arrestor hook and modified landing gear. We have developed a shore-based set up for practicing arrester barrier landing by our aircraft, before proving the historic landing of Naval Tejas on INS Vikramaditya. It was a tremendous work and I congratulate our Navy pilots and the scientists associated in the development team for the achievement.
There were reports that DRDO has been working on the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft. Could you tell us what is the status of this project?
AMCA design is being finalized. It is a twin engine medium weight multirole fighter aircraft with more powerful engine compared to LCA, capable of supersonic cruise with stealth features.
DRDO’s Nirbhay missile project has been in the pipeline for some time now. What is the latest in this regard?
Nirbhay has completed the Development Trials, including long endurance and low flying cruise flight profile. Production will commence once procurement process is completed.
Could you talk to us about the status of DRDO’s anti-tank guided missile system programme?
Our ATGM program has come of age. Nag, the ground based ATGM has completed the User Trials and is ready for production. The helicopter launched version, Helina is in advanced stage of development. The development of Helina, called Dhruvastra will be completed by this year end. MPATGM is also in the final phase of development. This arsenal will suffice the user requirements in this segment.
Could you share with us about the major upcoming projects of DRDO?
The upcoming new initiatives in the form of new platforms and systems development include advance medium combat aircraft, new-generation main battle tank, long-range radars, advanced airborne early warning and control system, sonar suites, high-thrust aero engines, high power engines for wheeled platforms, underwater autonomous vehicles and hypersonic vehicles.
Some of the weapon systems under advanced stages of development are long-range air-to-air missile, standoff anti-tank missile, advanced torpedoes, medium-range surface-to-air missile for the Army, a ship-launched short-range surface-to-air missile for the Navy, Naval anti-ship missile, etc.