The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is in the process of setting up at least 10 'centres of technology' in the country over the next five years, primarily aimed at developing high-end technologies, according to Avinash Chander, scientific adviser to ministry of defence, secretary to the department of defence research and development (R&D), and director-general, DRDO.
“The first set of such centres will be coming up at IIT-Mumbai and IIT-Chennai this year, where PhDs and MTechs will work on technologies including high-end robotics, advanced propulsion aeronautics and directed energy weapons. We are expecting an intake of 500 PhDs and MTechs for each centre,” Chander said.
Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of Defence and Aerosupply India, a three-day international conference and exhibition on defence and aerospace technologies that concluded here on Friday, he said the DRDO had earmarked Rs 500 crore a year to enhance defence R&D content in Indian universities. “Today, many universities are maths-oriented. Our idea is to make them research-oriented,” he said.
According to Chander, creating a dedicated fund, either through venture capital or micro financing, to extend cash support to startups in the defence and aerospace sector is the need of the hour.
“I feel that a fund of this kind could be started with an initial corpus of Rs 200 crore and extend it on a recoverable basis to young industrialists who are willing to enter the sector,” he said, adding that the DRDO had also been talking at the central level to create a material bank where they could stock critical material.
It is looking at setting up more establishments in and around Hyderabad with an investment of around Rs 1,500 crore. The ministry of defence undertaking has already acquired 100 acre at Nagarjuna Sagar for setting up a systems and component testing facility, while works on hypersonic and transonic wind tunnel facilities at Shamirpet and a radar cross-section measurement facility at Dundigal, both on the outskirts of Hyderabad, are under way.
“The tunnels facility, the second in the country with the first being in Bangalore, should be operational in three years from now, while the radar cross-section unit will be up and running within a year,” Chander said.
On the status of the proposed missile test launch centre at Nagayalanka in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, he said the DRDO was awaiting land clearances for 250 acre and approvals from environmental agencies for the Rs 1,500-crore missile test range project.