New Delhi: The Indian Army has enhanced focus on alternative development avenues and in-house expertise for technology-based innovation solutions as it is not satisfied with the results of projects sourced from the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Technology Development Fund (TDF), meant to promote self-reliance through indigenous state-of-the-art systems for defence applications. Hindu Business Line has reported it.
The report citing a senior officer of Army claimed that two crucial projects of the Army were foreclosed in the last six months for want of desired outcome from the TDF platform.
Currently, the Army is navigating through the same procedural and bureaucratic hurdles at the TDF in five ongoing projects worth ₹50.58 crore, and another project is in the deliberation stage, the source said.
Under the TDF scheme, the DRDO extends financial support and expertise for the validation of concepts in two years offered by tri-services for either upgrading existing products and systems or for new futuristic defence technologies.
It onboards small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups into the defence technology arena, specifically catering to the Army’s technological requisites.
The defence allocation under the interim budget for 2024-25 showed a notable shortfall in the DRDO’s ability to leverage the TDF for the country’s technology capability enhancement, said, Army sources.
The Army officials said they are not solely relying on the DRDO for solutions for 365 modernisation, and research and development (R&D)/design and development (D&D) projects. Instead, the Army is exploring alternative avenues such as Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), Army Technology Board (ATB), and In-House Research and Development (IR&D) for weapon systems and other requirements.
Of the lot, 125 projects have been shared at the Army command level for innovation. Fifty-four design and development (D&D) projects were also handed over to the in-house ATB, and only five were given to the TDF, said Army sources. However, 50 concepts have been outsourced to the DRDO for development. Another 51 projects went to iDEX, out of which four contracts have already been signed, while seven more are in the field-trial stage, according to Army sources. And, for 42 projects, some academic institutions have been approached through the ATB, Army sources added.
Other than these, 53 big projects are being developed through the Make I (government-funded) and Make II (industry-funded) categories. This diversified approach signifies the Army’s adaptive and forward-thinking ethos, ensuring that the forces remain at the forefront of technological prowess and readiness, as a senior officer quoted above observed.