A confidential report on making India self-reliant in aerospace has called for massive overhaul of higher education and military research and manufacturing. The report has also indicted Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and other stakeholders for their failure on various fronts in ensuring that India became an important manufacturer of aircraft and other aeronautical systems.
While India showed some level of vision and dynamism in aerospace sector in the first few decades after independence, the situation has only turned worse now, the report said. "The subsequent lack of vision, determination and passion all contribute to the abject stagnation of this sector and continued dependence on other countries," it said.
It has pointed out that India needs to immediately carry out overhaul of higher education, improve civil and defence aeronautics research capabilities, revitalize public sector units and allow private sector in a major way to make significant gains in aerospace.
The committee, set up by the Integrated Defence Staff, submitted the report a few weeks before the UPA government left office in May. Headed by Air Marshal M Matheswaran, then deputy chief of integrated defence staff, the seven-member panel visited various facilities around the country and also audited all major aeronautical projects under way, such as development of light combat aircraft (LCA), Kaveri engine and licence production of Sukhoi-30 by HAL.
The study has recommended setting up of a National Aeronautics Commission to be the facilitator for coordination between civil and military aviation sectors and draw up a long-term plan.
The committee has said the DRDO's cost and time frame projected for indigenous projects are "unrealistic, to the extent of being unprofessional in a few cases". The comments have been made on the basis of the review of indigenous projects such as the LCA, Kaveri, LRSAM/MRSAM (long range surface to air missile/medium range surface to air missile) projects in partnership with Israeli firms etc.
HAL, country's dominant aeronautical manufacturer, aspires to make India an important aircraft manufacturer. Design and development of a basic trainer (HT-2) progressed impressively immediately after independence, followed by HF-24. "The D&D effort of HF 24 was however not taken forward due to various sins of commission and omission on the part of all stakeholders and especially for want of a suitable engine," said the report. Indian aerospace industry thus lost more than two decades, and started again from the drawing board stage with the LCA (light combat aircraft) programme.
After examining the success of countries such as Brazil, South Korea and China in developing a successful model of creating their aerospace sector, the committee concluded that India is nowhere near turning into a major aerospace industry player. "All these countries have integrated the commercial and economic viability issues including the most important aspect of slotting the global supply chain, as the fundamental basis of all their policies and strategies with reference to creating their aerospace capabilities. This is clearly absent in our case," it said.
It has also said that universities, private companies and military labs need to lean on each other for research. . -- timesofindia