Dr Ajay Kumar, India’s Defence Secretary, had a brief exchange with Delhi Defence Review’s Editor-in-Chief Saurav Jha on the status of some important domestic military-industrial initiatives.
Saurav Jha: What is the status of the order for 83 Tejas Mk1A aircraft?
Dr Kumar: The order for 83 Tejas Mk1A being placed on M/s HAL is in advanced stages of price negotiation and should happen shortly. The final price and package details may be disclosed at that stage.
Saurav Jha: Are we likely to see any forward movement on what were earlier flagship ‘Make-I’ programmes, such as the FICV project for instance? Is there a move to roll them out under ‘Make-II’ instead?
Dr Kumar: We will take up projects under Make-I as and when required. Meanwhile, we are finding significant traction under Make-II which offers several advantages. During the last two years, 44 projects under Make-II have been taken up for development. Some very interesting projects that have been taken up include Anti Tank Guided Missiles, Infrared Imaging Search & Track System(IRST), Maneuverable Expendable Aerial Target), Digital Beam forming based Satellite TV, Chaffs and Flares etc. It is noteworthy that projects across all three services have been initiated.
Saurav Jha: Would you give us a status update on the progress of projects that have been shortlisted under iDEX? In terms of nearing production or being incorporated in existing systems, that is? Which according to you are the most exciting iDEX projects?
Dr Kumar: Under iDEX, 18 challenges have so far been announced which has resulted in the participation of nearly 600 Startups. As such, iDEX has been able to create a significant buzz in the sector. Startups are today creating new technologies and products. Participation of startups has reduced the cost and time line of innovation in the defence sector. Some interesting technologies that are being developed by startups include UAVs and their payloads, Individual Protection System, Active Protection System, Counter Measures for Drones etc.
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