21st October 2021

Sitara

India’s First Do Tank linking Tech and Geopolitical Power

Bettering Rip Van Winkle, waking up to the drone danger 35 years too late!

And still importing solutions!

A post by Shri Bharat Karnad, who predicted the need for drones as far back as in 1986, is linked here, with key extracts below. He says the IAF brass (despite several exceedingly pretty power points, policy announcements and reports – the Army Design Bureau’s latest report mentions action taken on drones/UAVs at least 21 times!) continues to remain “clueless about the drone/UAV technologies — hardware and software — of the most sophisticated kind being designed, developed and marketed in India”. Our Distinguished Members Group Captain RK Narang and Dr Premchand, both formerly of the Armed Forces, have been working on this issue. Dr Narang “was, until he retired earlier this year, the leading proponent of UAVs in IAF” and has recently written a book on the subject (article linked).

A partial list of several private sector companies at the cutting edge of drone technology was prepared with Dr Premchand’s help and sent to the authorities by SITARA (the Science, Indigenous Technology & Research Accelerator). We are working on it.

The drones used in J&K must be Chinese, they have one of the biggest leads in drones in the world, again by leveraging commercial tech as Bharat has recommended.

We wish just once the Govt would announce a true Atmanirbharta effort in Defence and pick up a few deserving candidates and scale them up. Given the Chinese experience, of picking up PRIVATE SECTOR COMPANIES and helping scale them up (Huawei), why should a Govt sitting atop a mixed economy not do the same?

We also wonder what use the Army Design Bureau’s report was put to. We are so good at reports, policies, power points, but zero at implementation it seems.

We hope PMO, Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary MOD, NSCS and some parts of DPIIT, who have led the drive for indigenisation against powerful lobbies, will take action now before it is too late. Dr Mohapatra, former Secretary DPITT, was very responsive to SITARA’s requests and there has been an outpouring of grief and condolences at his untimely demise in the service of the nation.

Some more telling excerpts from Bharat’s article below:

If only MOD could form a consortium of these firms (and more names are trickling in) to “they would produce a world class series of surveillance, warfighting and attack drones including drone swarms operating in distributed (artificial) intelligence mode, as also anti-drone technologies. Such an enterprise should long ago have been underway with the IAF helming it. But considering its regressive mindset the chances of its doing so are, well, zero. In the main because IAF brass fear that drones/UAVs will divert resources from combat aircraft acquisition programmes they are wedded to come hell or high water! Such purchases will be made even if these aircraft stand next to no chance of surviving actual fight with drones. Indeed, these aircraft will be lucky to get off the ground in the face of attacking D-swarms.

Relying on DRDO to perfect its drone and anti-drone systems, like land-based and airborne low energy lasers to shoot down drones/UAVs, and IT systems to scramble their guidance loops, is unnecessarily to lose time and money. Most countries are fast-forwarding their drone/anti-drone projects by going commercial — that is, getting companies vending whole drone systems or parts of it for commercial use, to build more rugged and capable drones and unmanned aircraft to milspecs for military use. …Because this is private sector where time is money there’ll be no time or cost over-runs. Except, as in all advanced technology areas where procurement is featured, the process is deliberately elongated by everybody in the acquisition hierarchy and in the DRDO in the hope that IAF and Indian govt will opt for the usual, inherently compromised, foreign hardware, and that this will involve a lot of foreign trips, lavish “entertainment” — “commissions” anybody? and, who knows what else. Can the Indian firms provide them such goodies? Of course, not. So import everything!! Third World/Fourth World modus operandi zindabad!!”

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