New DRDO Chief pushes emergency button on Project Tejas
The Defence Research and Development Organisation’s DRDO new Director General, Dr Avinash Chander, has activated Code Red on Project Tejas, and has called for an immediate emergency plan to get the lumbering programme back on track. Top sources at DRDO and the Aeronautical Development Agency informed SP’s M.A.I. that Dr Chander, over the last three days, has held video-conference discussions with all top scientists and visited Bengaluru for one-on-one meetings with the team leading the second phase of the initial operational clearance (IOC-2) mission. Things have been distinctly difficult for the programme over the last two years. Following IOC-1 in January 2011, it has been slow-moving.
On May 29, two days before Dr Chander took over as his scientific advisor, Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared that the Tejas would, at all costs, be delivered to the IAF by the end of next year, fully certified and cleared by all agencies concerned. That one announcement has put a huge amount of pressure on the new DRDO Chief, who is now understood to have put together a team of eight persons, including two of his own appointees, to oversee on literally a day-to-day basis functional progress on Project Tejas, including all aspects of certification and compliance. Dr Chander, sources say, will receive an official update either verbally or in report form every alternate day to keep himself abreast of what he considers to be the most crucial and pressing programme in the DRDO pipeline.
A top official of Dr Chander’s newly formed team informed SP’s M.A.I., “The other programmes are progressing satisfactorily. The light combat aircraft requires special attention. It is for this reason that Dr Chander felt the need to allocate additional resources to supervise this final stretch of the prestigious project. We will be giving it our all to deliver a fine fighter to the customer.” Dr Chander’s team will similarly continue and oversee the Tejas Mk.2 programme once the Mk.2 final operational clearance is in the bag.