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Updated January 18th, 2024 at 11:49 IST

DRDO slated for overhaul as committee advocates game-changing reforms for defense innovation

A high-level committee has proposed substantial structural changes to DRDO, advocating a Defence Technology Commission's establishment.

Yuvraj Tyagi
COAS Gen Manoj Pande
Representational | Image:ADGPI
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New Delhi: In a significant move towards overhauling the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), a high-level committee led by Professor Vijay Raghavan has proposed substantial structural changes and the establishment of a Defence Technology Commission. The committee's recommendations, submitted to the Defence Ministry on January 1, advocate a pivotal role for the Prime Minister in the proposed commission, along with the inclusion of various stakeholders. 

The key recommendations include the appointment of two secretaries within DRDO—one overseeing defense research and development, and the other focusing on defense technology and innovations. With three senior military officials contributing to the committee's findings, the report has been circulated among different wings of the defense ministry and armed forces for comprehensive feedback. 

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What are the key recommendations? 

As part of the suggested reforms, the committee proposes the merger of over 50 existing laboratories into approximately 10 larger ones. The overhaul aims to streamline operations, reduce redundancy, and enhance overall efficiency. Additionally, the committee suggests reducing the number of directors and eliminating the role of cluster Director Generals in favor of a more consolidated leadership structure. 

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An amplified role for academia and the private sector in defense research and development is also recommended, aligning with India's broader strategy to foster innovation and collaboration. The committee emphasizes the urgency of implementing these reforms within a stipulated timeframe, raising questions about the fate of ongoing projects and how they will be managed during the transition. 

DRDO's battle-tested light tank 'Zorawar' to face Chinese counterpart 

In another development, DRDO is set to conduct development trials of its indigenous light tank, 'Zorawar,' in the harsh terrain of Rajasthan's Thar desert during April and May. The tank is designed to ascertain its compatibility with the Chinese ZTQ-15 light tank, a potential adversary in the high-altitude deserts of Eastern Ladakh and Sikkim. 

Named after the 19th-century general Zorawar Singh, the tank initiative was launched in 2020 after Chinese incursions in Ladakh. The objective is to create 300-500 light tanks capable of maneuvering the challenging terrain. The current contrast between India's T-72 tanks and China's ZTQ-15 highlights the necessity for enhanced mobility, with the latter boasting superior power-to-weight ratios. 

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The Zorawar, based on the K-9 Vajra, envisions improved mobility, featuring hulls and engines designed for challenging altitudes. The trials aim to validate its performance under extreme conditions, determining its readiness for potential deployment in border regions. 

As India takes strategic steps in both structural reforms within DRDO and technological advancements in military hardware, the nation's defense capabilities are poised for a transformative evolution. The pending discussions with the Prime Minister's Office and further deliberations within the defense ministry will shape the trajectory of these proposed reforms and their impact on India's defense landscape. 

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Published January 18th, 2024 at 11:49 IST

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