June 16, 2012 idrw.org - SOURCE: EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V K Saraswat who took a sortie in the Swedish Saab Gripen fighter aircraft last month made it clear that his sortie had nothing to do with the Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal. Saraswat was in the city to inaugurate a National Conference on Condition Monitoring at the Research and Development Establishment, Engineers (R&DE). “There are no second thoughts on the MMRCA choice. My sortie in Saab Gripen has no relationship with MMRCA. My visit to the facility was in relation with Foliage Penetration Radar,” he said. Gripen was one of the contenders for the Indian Air Force’s high profile 126 MMRCA program, which now stands finalised with French Dassault Rafale.Replying to questions asked by The Indian Express, Saraswat said, “The changing dynamics of US-India relations will open a larger window and improve interactions between DRDO and the US academies and industries, but the domestic US policies such as dual-use technology are acting as deterrents. The US is treating India differently. In fact, most of my laboratories are not in the entity list – this will help us improve transfer of technology (ToT) related aspects besides taking up joint development programmes.”
It may be noted that the Obama administration, in January last year, removed nine ISRO/ DRDO organisations from the US entity list. The removal from entity list results in the organisations being treated as any other company in India for licensing purposes. Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, was one of the nine organisations.
Meanwhile, commenting on the assurance by the Indian Army to place an order for 140 numbers of 155 mm, 52 calibre howitzers — currently under development at city’s ARDE— if proven in field trials, Saraswat said, “The decision has come three days back. ARDE, Pune has been working on the design for the past one year. The designs are in a review stage and users as well as Quality Assurance agencies are being involved in the process. It is a national program and private industries will be involved in the development of sub systems and components. We are trying to bring in the best gun system. Two prototypes will be developed and tested. It should take about 6- 7 years for the development.”
The proposal made by the Army to the DRDO was reportedly a part of the defence preparedness review of the Corps of Artillery, which has not been able to induct a single gun for the past 25 years after the Bofors scam. Saraswat refused to comment on the BEML-Tatra issue saying the matter is under investigation.