With the Defence Ministry restricting international procurement of missiles, the Indian Armed Forces will be provided homegrown tactical missiles with the help of state-run DRDO and its associate laboratories. As per recent reports and statements made by DRDO, the military is expected to buy Rs 1 lakh crore worth of DRDO-developed missiles in the next ten years.
In a recent media report, Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) has revealed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Army had already placed orders worth Rs 24,000 crore for Akash surface-to-air missiles. Another DRDL laboratory called Research Centre Imarat (RCI) has also indicated that IAF had ordered Rs 8,600 crore worth of Medium Range-Surface to Air Missiles (MR-SAMs).
As for the Indian Navy, it had ordered Long Range-Surface to Air Missiles (LR-SAMs) worth more than Rs 2,600 crore for its destroyers and frigates that were under construction. The absence of a solid air Defence network has also made its warships prone to incoming anti-ship missiles.
Meanwhile, DRDO officials have revealed that DRDO has also been handed control of the budget for the IAF’s futuristic Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MR-SAM) and the Navy’s advanced Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM), according to latest media reports. This amounts to Rs 10,075 crore for the MR-SAM, and Rs 2,606 crore for the LR-SAM. While DRDO has also signed technology development contracts with Israeli companies for several new systems that will power these SAMs, its main role will be technology coordination.
As for the DRDO, it is pleased with the fact that the military is ordering even tactical missile systems like the Akash which faces international competition. While DRDO has a monopoly on strategic ballistic missiles like the Prithvi and Agni series, it is glad that tactical missiles like Akash are also being considered.
In 2008-09 the IAF ordered two squadrons of Akash with the first one entering service this month followed by the second in June 2013. In 2010, it ordered another six squadrons of the Akash, for protecting its bases on the Sino-Indian border. In March 2011, the Army placed an order for two Akash regiments.
DRDO has been criticized in the past for its time and cost overruns in crucial projects for the military. However, DRDO has claimed that it cannot be held solely responsible. DRDO has repeatedly indicated that the responsibility must be shared by all stake-holders of Defence ministry and cannot be placed on DRDO alone. This is because DRDO neither has the power to impose its products on the Armed Forces nor the mandate or capacity to produce the developed systems all by themselves.