India's lone state-owned Defence research and development agency has sought about $35 billion from the government for the five-year period till 2017 to ensure its armed forces get modern, latest weapons and military systems from its stable.
Defence Ministry sources said that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has asked for the amount under the 12th Plan period from 2012-17 as it wants to diversify its research and development activities and contribute for the Indian armed forces' battle readiness.
For the purpose, DRDO has identified aeronautics, missile systems, electronics, computer sciences and naval systems as its key focus areas in the short-term and on strategic weapons in the long term.
It has also prepared a blue print to convince the finance ministry on its fund requirements, sources said.
In the $38-billion Defence budget presented earlier this year, the government has allocated about $2 billion for Defence research and development. It constitutes less than five per cent of the country's Defence budget.
India's Defence research and development spending usually hovers at five per cent of the country's Defence budget, though ideally it should be eight per cent. DRDO had actually sought $3 billion for 2012-13, but got only two-thirds of what it had asked for.
Compared to other militarily superior nations such as US and Israel, who spend around 15 per cent of their annual Defence budget on R&D, India's spending on Defence R&D is very low.
DRDO has 48 laboratories around the country dealing with research and development in areas such as aeronautics, armaments, combat vehicles, electronics, instrumentation engineering systems, missiles, materials, naval systems, advanced computing, simulation and life sciences.
DRDO is striving to provide cutting edge technologies in Defence for the Indian armed forces for which it also wants to improve the research infrastructure of the country and efficiency of its laboratories.
The DRDO also seeks to increase its manpower requirements. It currently has about 5,000 scientists and another 25,000 support staff members. But it is looking at inducting about 3,000 scientists and engineers in the next five years, though till now sanction has come only for 400-odd vacancies.
During the sixth pay commission, implemented in 2008, the government had substantially improved pay and perks for Defence scientists, apart from incentive schemes, thus making DRDO an attractive career option for the youth of the country.
DRDO has over the years developed India's ballistic missiles including the Agni and Prithvi series, apart from development critical naval technologies including for the indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant, combat and transport planes such as the Tejas, combat vehicles and tanks such as the Arjuns.