Wednesday, 10 November 2010

In major shift, DRDO looks at building arms with America


Dr Prahlada, the DRDO's Chief Controller (Aerospace & Services Interaction) believes that, within a decade, the DRDO will be partnering US entities in developing military systems


by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 11th Nov 10

India is co-developing and building missiles and military aircraft with Russia; it is co-developing missiles with Israel. But targeted American sanctions, and a Washington licence raj that stifles the outflow of military technology, has ensured that India’s Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has never co-developed weaponry with the world’s most evolved and high-tech defence industry: that of the United States.

The US, in turn --- even while selling billions of dollars worth of military aircraft to India --- has failed to mine the MoD’s richest lode: joint development contracts like the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), which will be signed next month with a corpus of US $12 billion, which could rise to over US $20 billion. Or like the US $2 billion partnership between the DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries to co-develop an anti-aircraft missile.

But that seems likely to change with Washington agreeing, during the run up to President Obama’s just-concluded visit, to relax controls on technology and defence exports. Top DRDO officials now believe that, given the growing closeness between the US and India, the two defence establishments would be jointly developing high-tech military weaponry by 2020.

Dr Prahlada, the DRDO’s Chief Controller, told Business Standard just ahead of the US president’s visit, “Within a decade, we will have major joint collaboration. Maybe in aeronautics, maybe radars… something will click. We are working with Israel and Russia in missiles; with the US we may work on something else. Both countries are moving towards that.”

The DRDO, aware of the US defence industry’s technological self-sufficiency, believes that India’s key attraction would revolve around lowering the cost of a product through cheaper development and testing costs. And, as the US defence budget plateaus and even reduces, the assured custom from India’s military would add significant economies of scale.

The DRDO chief, Dr VK Saraswat, is explicit about the military projects that the US and India could undertake jointly. He says, “We have discussed this many times. India has an excellent base in IT, especially computer simulation, virtual reality, and robotics. In any contemporary military platform, you need command and control and communications software. We have some of the best brains in this area and we can develop these systems for both India and the US. If these Indian strengths are harnessed with American technologies, we could build the best and the cheapest military systems in the world.

As the DRDO notches up successes in high-tech fields like missiles, aerospace, electronic warfare systems and command networks, its senior officials are confident that their laboratories have much to offer. Says Prahlada, “American and European companies earlier believed that Indian defence R&D was at some lower level. But now they listen and observe because they know that we have developed systems of complexity and that… if they do not work with us, we will somehow find a solution. So that is not there. Definitely there is an improved way of looking at India.”

While the Indo-US Defence Policy Group (DPG) --- a joint deliberative body that meets regularly --- has long provided a forum for exploring research areas, Saraswat complains that US legal restraints have hamstrung its work: “We have identified areas where we can work together. But the US legal framework --- regimes such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR); and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) --- require many permissions and raise legal issues on dual-use technology.”

Now, after Obama’s unambiguous promise to reform export controls, the DRDO expects that many of these difficulties will ease.

According to Dr Saraswat, the US technology regimes have permitted cooperation in fundamental research, but not in developing specific technologies or military systems. The DRDO chief explains, “If we wanted to do research on, say, bio-medical engineering then it is okay (with the US). But there would be hesitation on their part for research on, say, hypersonic technology, which is used in missiles.”

Washington’s technology safeguard regimes have hindered not just military joint R&D, but also Indian academics researching in US institutions. Saraswat says, “A large number of Indian scientists go and work in the US universities etc, but when it comes to really doing research in application areas these US laws are not permitting cooperation in application-oriented research.”

13 comments:

Daanish said...

Tottering along to become the next 51st state. We might as well drop the pretense of calling our selves a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, because on a factual basis all of these titles can be debated against given India's current situation. Even the great partnership between England and the united states is a one way street. India like others will be reduced to playing second fiddle and be nothing more than a regional proxy. We will have usurped out ancient foe in this role and we will have to welcome in a new century with newer masters.

Deshdaaz said...

The most interesting takeaway from this piece (at least for me) was the last para. "Washington’s technology safeguard regimes have hindered not just military joint R&D, but also Indian academics researching in US institutions."

That is kind of surprising news to me. Know so many Ph.D folks here, although never paid enough attention as to whether their research areas touched any critical military applications research.

Discrimination against poor Indian F1 students! I have a strong case against Uncle Sam :)

Anonymous said...

Day dreaming !!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Russia thinks about this. Keep in mind that Russia cooperates with India on strategic technologies in a way that no other country does.

Mr. Ra said...

QUOTE>>Dr Prahlada, the DRDO's Chief Controller (Aerospace & Services Interaction) believes that, within a decade, the DRDO will be partnering US entities in developing military systems. <<UNQUOTE

Welcome and a real good belief system.

Ben - Yours truly said...

India- the plutocrat of the Global arms Bazaar
India of late has been diversifying its weapon systems for late. The recent case has been the visit of the American president is a case in point, though the visit's pinnacle can be attributed to USA's support for India on the UN high table, in the defence circles in the open forums atleast what doesn't doesn't seem to die down is the IAF decision to procure 10 C-17 that is assumed to keep 20,000 high paying jobs in california for a year more, do u honestly believe that Obama offered US support for a minusle $ 4.1 billion dollars and aren't we taking this buying power concept too far.
Well, I'll hypothetically frame an instance of Indian buying power and how it works. the texan T-6 beechcraft trainer is here for trails in line with the IAF tender for ab-initio trainers competition to replace Hpt-32 deepaks, I believe the aircraft will be tested and announced that it won the competition to supply 75 aircraft, its merit-American. i'm sure HAL will partner the same company to build the 106 more under licence.
Hurrah! Lets build every nut and bolt with American technology, a strategiic partnership that will define the framework of the 21st century. Other than millions of dollars what could we seriously offer the Americans in terms of capability or clout.

One question that intrigues me about this competition is, the trainers here are mostly Basic trainers except Gorb G-120tp.
The Hpt-32 is an ab-initio trainer, wouldn't it be logical to replace it with an ab initio from the market than a basic trainer.
Don't the Gorb G-120 and texan T-6 serve as the first and second level of aircraft training in The Israeli Air Force, is it logical to take a competition that tests aircrafts in different leagues with one another?
Why has the bar been raised so high that original Ab initio trainer designs had to be pushed out to make way for high performance Basic trainers/light attack aircraft, one such requirement being the ejector seat which only g-120 managed to pull off?
Won't a high performance trainer selection not kill the hjt-36 sitara?
Wouldn't the option of ejector seat has the danger of losing the aircraft itself due to a simple nervous beginner's error?
Wouldn't the civilian Nal/taneja Hansa priced at $ 200,00 with a Military Certification and ballistic recovery system serve the safety requirements of the Iaf, Since it is even Cheaper than the lowest competition being g-120 tp at $ 3-4 mil a piece?
Price apart while the Rfi and rfp were sent to no less than ten aircraft manufacturers, why couldn't Nal/taneja be one of them?
Is it a deliberate ploy of HAL , IAF to keep the civilian industry from heir turf, so that Indian aerospace wouldn't develop capability to challenge import and licence production by HAL?
I've been waiting for answers for quite a while, thought by sharing, u journalists might give it a try .

Ben - Yours truly said...

Well, I'll hypothetically frame an instance of Indian buying power and how it works. the texan T-6 beechcraft trainer is here for trails in line with the IAF tender for ab-initio trainers competition to replace Hpt-32 deepaks, I believe the aircraft will be tested and announced that it won the competition to supply 75 aircraft, its merit-American. i'm sure HAL will partner the same company to build the 106 more under licence.
Hurrah! Lets build every nut and bolt with American technology, a strategiic partnership that will define the framework of the 21st century. Other than millions of dollars what could we seriously offer the Americans in terms of capability or clout.

One question that intrigues me about any competition and this in particular is, the trainers here are mostly Basic trainers except Gorb G-120tp.

Ben - Yours truly said...

The Hpt-32 is an ab-initio trainer, wouldn't it be logical to replace it with an ab initio from the market than a basic trainer.
Don't the Gorb G-120 and texan T-6 serve as the first and second level of aircraft training in The Israeli Air Force, is it logical to make a competition that tests aircrafts in different leagues with one another?
Why has the bar been raised so high that original Ab initio trainer designs had to be pushed out to make way for high performance Basic trainers/light attack aircraft, one such requirement being the ejector seat which only g-120 managed to pull off?
Won't a high performance trainer selection kill the hjt-36 sitara?
Wouldn't the option of ejector seat has the danger of losing the aircraft itself due to a simple nervous beginner's error?
Wouldn't the civilian Nal/taneja Hansa priced at $ 200,00 with a Military Certification and ballistic recovery system serve the safety requirements of the Iaf, Since it is even Cheaper than the lowest competition being g-120 tp at $ 3-4 mil a piece?
Price apart while the Rfi and rfp were sent to no less than ten aircraft manufacturers, why couldn't Nal/taneja be one of them?
Is it a deliberate ploy of HAL , IAF to keep the civilian industry from heir turf, so that Indian aerospace wouldn't develop capability to challenge import and licence production by HAL?
I've been waiting for answers for quite a while, thought by sharing, u journalists might give it a try .

Anonymous said...

Indians seem to think that by getting very close to the Americans they will ensure that the US will take out the terrorist camps in POK on our behalf.This betrays the cowardly mindset of the Indian establishment.By buying more and more armaments from the US will not make them send Delta forces into POK to finish off the anti-India jehadi factories.

JaiHo said...

LoL! All that Indians will end up doing is licensed manufacturing from SKDs. For thousands of years Indians have been the slaves of every Tom, Dick and Harry who just marched into India with their brothers-in-laws. Seems India will never ever learn from it's folly of thousand years. Stupid Yindoo and it's stupid dreams.

keshto said...

Ben, US-India strategic partnership is destined to bring some profit in the form of UNSC seat for India down the road, as India became the only non NPT nation with 1-2-3 agreement (thanks to US) into its fold.

No wonder Germany and Japan (both) were pissed off, if not furious, over Obama´s direct remarks (on Permanent seat) in India´s favour under the Indian Parliament roof.

Obama´s statement had a ripple effect, so much so that country like China is ready for consultation with India over UNSC reform.

India, by purchasing several big ticket items from USA is trying to be in USA´s good books.

Look at the bigger picture, use wide angle lens next time, senior Benjamin Franklin!

Anonymous said...

The only reason why DRDO is able to get joint development projects is because of the money it can bring to the table, something countries like Russia and Israel are happy to have.

The US is not cash strapped. So, they would not be eager to help, or they might just take keep India behind the curve.

How can a country, which does not give it's oldest allies access to it's technology(F-22) be expected to be honest with joint development?

keshto said...

How can a country, which does not give it's oldest allies access to it's technology(F-22) be expected to be honest with joint development?


In that (India´s) case the US will eat five course meal and pass over the leftovers to India. It has been the case since decades, why it should be any different now.....