The first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) in IOC configuration, having undergone all weather and environmental trials and accepted by the Indian Air Force (IAF), was handed over to it on 14 February during Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka Air base in Bengaluru by Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Secretary Department of Defence (R&D), Dr. S. Christopher. Considered to be a game changer in air warfare, the AEW&C is a system of systems populated with state-of-the art Active Electronically Scanned Radar, Secondary Surveillance Radar, Electronic and Communication Counter Measures, LOS (Line of Sight) and beyond LOS data link, voice communication system and self protection suite, built on an Emb-145 platform, having an air to air refuelling capability to enhance surveillance time. Complex tactical software has been developed for fusion of information from the sensors, to provide the air situation picture along with intelligence to handle identification/classification threat assessment. Battle management functions are built in house to work as a network centric system of the Integrated Air Command & Control System (IACCS) node. The AEW&C system has the IAF for induction.

MoS Defence, Subhash Bhamre informed recently in Parliament that in the last two financial years and current year, 90 contracts involving a value of Rs.83,344.31 crore were signed with Indian vendors and 51 contracts involving a value of Rs.1,16,667.34 crore were signed with foreign vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment. The Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 reflects the commitment to promote indigenisation and self reliance in the defence sector by harnessing the capabilities of the public and private sector.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), a R&D wing of Ministry of Defence, is primarily involved in design and development of strategic, complex and security sensitive systems in the fields of armaments, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, radars, electronic warfare systems, sonars, combat vehicles, combat aircraft, sensors, etc., for the Armed Forces as per their specific QR (qualitative requirement). Some of the major indigenously designed and developed weapon platforms that have been successfully inducted into the Services inter alia include advanced light helicopters, light combat aircraft, Akash missile systems, multi barrel rocket system – Pinaka, Arjun tanks, Sonars, etc.

To involve private sector in defence R&D, projects are undertaken under the ‘Make’ category. Government also launched the Technology Development Fund to involve industry, particularly SMEs in defence sector. According highest preference to ‘Buy (Indian- IDDM-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)’ category of acquisition, and revision of ‘Make’ procedure in the Defence Procurement Procedure-2016 (DPP) are expected to catalyse investment into defence research, development and innovation.

Some of the new special innovative projects undertaken by DRDO during last three years are:

• Pralay Missile

• Rudra M-II Air to Surface Missile

• Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART)

• Ku-band Active Radar Seeker

• Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT)

• AESA Based Integrated Sensor Suite (ABISS)

• EM Gun Powered by a Capacitor Bank

• Multi-Agent Robotics System (MARS)

• Ku-band TWTA for Aerospace Application

• Submarine Periscope

• Air Independent Propulsion System for Submarine

• AWACS (India), Radar USHAS

These projects cover a wide variety of technology domains from aeronautics to missiles and naval systems. Details of expenditure made by the Department of Defence R&D during the last three years and current year, including the above mentioned projects are: Rs 10,868.88 crore in 2013-14, Rs13,257.98 crore in 2014-15, Rs13,277.27 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 13,593.78 crore in 2016-17.

Changing the policy on blacklisting of firms, Ministry of Defence had debarred six firms including their allied and subsidiary firms from further business dealings for a period of ten years since April 11, 2012. Further, business dealings are suspended/ put on hold in respect of 13 firms. In respect of another four firms, orders were issued restricting procurement from the concerned firms to cases where procurements are justified and necessary on the basis of operational urgency, national security and nonavailability of other alternatives. Guidelines for penalties in business dealings with entities have been promulgated since November 21, 2016, to ensure probity, transparency, propriety and compliance in the defence procurement process and at ensuring fairness, impartiality, rigour and correctness in dealings with entities, keeping in view the overall security interests of the country.

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Lt Col Anil Bhat

Col Anil Bhat (retd) is an independent defence and security analyst he is also an Editor at Word Sword Features

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