For nearly six decades now, DRDO has helped the country fulfil its mission of self-reliance and improve its indigenous defence capabilities
HAL’s first indigenously developed fighter-bomber aircraft saw action in the 1971 Bangladesh war; (Photo: Alamy stock photo)
The seeds of defence R&D in India were sown by eminent theoretical physicist D.S. Kothari, also our first scientific advisor. The Defence Service Organisation he founded in 1948 was to become the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) in 10 years, in association with several technical development establishments. From a primarily advisory role in operations research, ballistics, weapons evaluation, physiology, food and nutrition for the armed forces, the new organisation was tasked with the design and development of equipment based on operational requirements of the triservices, applied research and technical evaluation trials of weapons.
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So, if in the 1970s, the DRDO contributed to a peaceful nuclear explosion, 51 mm mortar, surface-to-air missile, 105 mm field gun, secondary surveillance radar and the Indra radar, the ’80s were an era of evolution of missiles, tanks and combat aircraft. By the noughties, the DRDO incorporated a systems engineering approach to develop complex missile systems such as Prithvi, Lakshya, the Ajeya tank, bridge layer tank, and the BLT-T72 or the mobile bridging system. The turn of the century saw the DRDO design and develop systems in nearly all areas of defence technology, be it aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, sensors, avionics, wireless and satellite communication systems, electronic warfare, materials, missiles and naval systems. A new joint venture was started for the Russia-developed supersonic cruise missile—BrahMos. Now, the DRDO is committed to the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, to reduce the country’s dependence on arms imports.