M A I N   N E W S

Antony stresses self-reliance in defence
Tells DRDO to complete unfinished projects without delay
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 23
Defence Minister AK Antony today reiterated the importance of self-reliance in producing military equipment if India were to emerge as a big power.

Inaugurating the 37th Directors’ Conference of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) today, Antony referred to the recent VVIP helicopter deal that had put the Defence acquisition process under the scanner to make a point.

“Such incidents highlight the need to look within and make us realise that there is absolutely no substitute for self-reliance,” he said.

The DRDO, making a departure from the past, has invited select industry captains to its three-day conference, allowing them to gauge their scope for developing military equipment.

Antony said unfinished projects that had been in the pipeline for a very long time should be completed at the earliest. In this connection, he drew the attention to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) - Tejas - and said the DRDO must not extend the date beyond 2014 for the final operational clearance of the aircraft for induction into the Indian Air Force.

“I am tired of answering questions in Parliament on ‘Tejas’,” Antony quipped.

‘Tejas’ had last participated in IAF exercise “Iron fist” in February. The single-engine fighter plane has an initial operational clearance and is being flown by the IAF to fine-tune various aspects before it is put to real-time operational flying.

Urging the DRDO scientists to focus on priority areas, Antony said the ultimate test of success of an organisation laid in the satisfaction of the users - in this case the three Services.

The DRDO, he said, had to take a lead if indigenisation goals had to be met. The three Services, the Ministry of Defence and private industry had to work together to ensure quick and transparent acceptance of the systems being produced by the DRDO, he added.

Antony complimented the DRDO for the progress achieved on the Agni-V and the BrahMos missile systems.

“Allocation of funds will not be a constraint. Continuous funding will be required for R&D to survive, but with more emphasis on indigenisation and self-reliance we will save a lot of money in the long run.”

Among those present were Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat.





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