Reflecting frustration over long delays of strategic projects like Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), defence minister A K Antonycame down hard on DRDO, saying there is a “limit to time slippages” and that it should “perform or perish”.
Antony told the country’s premier government-run organisation responsible for manufacturing defence equipment that it should adhere to the timelines and satisfy the user.
He specifically referred to the LCA project, which has not fructified even after nearly three decades of inception, and said, “I am waiting that the LCA should become a reality.”
The defence minister said in military development projects across the globe, it is a “herculean task” to meet timelines and there are time slippages. “But there is limit for slippages,” he said, clearly reflecting the frustration.
“In the times of cut-throat competition, the choice is very clear, perform or perish. In delivery of strategic systems, timelines must be adhered to and the satisfaction of the user is the litmus test,” Antony said at a DRDO awards function.
Asking the DRDO to focus on its core competence and “not fritter away its resources and energy”, he said, “Do not think that I am criticising you, I am with you in all times but as the minister of defence, it is my duty to say some things to you.”
On the LCA programme, he said he had been given a particular date by the DRDO. “I hope that it is the final date and the aircraft gets its Initial Operational Clearance II.”
The IOC-I of the LCA was held in January 2011 in Bangalore and its IOC-II was scheduled to be held in July but it has now been postponed to be held in November.
Antony asked the team of HAL, DRDO and the IAF to work together on the LCA project and ensure that it achieves the IOC-II and then the final operational clearance by the end of next year.