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  1. 1


    In my view, only Akash and Trishul are the products that may require analysis for their delay, one of which is that the range of Akash was asked to be increased to 50kms from the present 30kms, at the “11th hour” by the Army or Air-Force.

    As per statement of Mr. Natarajan, Trishul has been completed and the parameters for the user trials of the same sahll be negotiated with the IAF.

    It is very often and (conveniently so) ignored that USA’s reneging on the agreement to develop flight-control of Tejas after Pokhran tests led to an estimated 2-3 years of delay. In January 2004, the IAF’s unannounced request to redesign the wings of Tejas also led to delay, so much so that the PV-2, originally scheduled for 2004 was first flown only in Dec 2005.

    The FCS, thermal-imaging of T-90s have the same rate, seriousness of failure as the Arjun. Thus, Arjun may not be singly blamed.

    So these 4 projects of which 3 are nearing completion (Trishul is completed, but decision unknown) are the only ones that are “delayed” (to be blamed on the services also).
    These may not be percieved as smaller metaphors to blame the entire DRDO perpetually, as a perpetually unsuccessful organization.

    Thank you.

  2. 2


    I may quote a statement of the IAF’s report that, “….In its present status, Project Akash cannot meet the operational requirements of the IAF, due to major design flaws….”

    The so-termed “major design flaws”, is in all likelihood an exaggerated expression of the problem of a low range.

    The DRDO can present all technical data, witnessed and verified by IAF representatives if needed, and can prove that the system works perfectly.

    Thank you.

  3. 3


    In the systems defense,

    1) How many airforce bases are next to the ocean so multipath from waves will be an issue ?

    2) Whats the problem in the radar being hoisted on a 13 mt mast ? If it can be deployed fast and is mobile (as will be the case in a hydrolics powered mast), why cant it be deployed next to the runway/ATC in an airforce base, which presumably has a good network of roads etc ?

    3) How much time does it take to replace a Pechora or a Goa round, to consider 25 mins. excessive ?

    4) Many knowledgible people claim that other problems of parts falling off etc were normal teething problems and were solved in due course. The info. quoted is really old.

    Let me ask a question Shiv, before reporting your stories, do you guys even try to get DRDO versions of the story ? Why is it that we only see selected quotes from the services when its clear that there are two sides to this story.


  4. 4


    Some more questions for you,

    1) How relevant is it to quote the problem of parts falling off, when it was solved in the initial stages of the development ? – why wasnt a DRDO rebuttal invited for this specific point. Your colleague has made it seem like this is the current state of the system, when its clearly not so.

    2) When the IAF claims that Akash has major design flaws, why dont you guys probe further and ask your contacts what the flaws are ? Not pointing these out make it seem like the services are making excuses to not induct an indigenous system in favor of a foreign system.


  5. 5

    Shiv Aroor

    Sudeep, all points well-taken. I will comment on Cmde Rai’s piece (it was his, not mine) but let me paste here an excerpt of an e-mail I sent to someone who had almost precisely what you had to say about the Express series, i.e. not taking DRDO’s viewpoint. Here’s what I replied: eight days before we began publishing our series in nov last year, we printed out all of it in the form of bullet points of the facts incorporated and faxed 23 sheets to DRDO’s “spokesperson”, a major general, with a request for comment/response/clarification. since i know DRDO functions under the MoD, i personally obtained written permission from the MoD for DRDO to interact directly with me and amitav ranjan so they may respond to our queries. they didn’t. eight days of lead time, and this wasn’t rocket science as it were — just facts already printed in parliamentary reports (unpublished though) and other official documents which we couldn’t “name” because it would be a breach of privilege. so the aftermath of the series was a little silly. they had, in one sense, begun to sulk. after every part that we published, i would almost plead with the DRDO spokesperson to give us responses/clarifications. they didn’t. it wasn’t that we doubted the facts, but it was genuinely our intention to have DRDO on board for the series, and not for it to be an arrow in the dark. about the other points you’ve made, since they pertain to cmde rai’s piece, let me send them on to cmde rai and see what he has to say. about the akash, the only report i have my hands on specifically states an “unacceptable” accuracy level at ceiling range.

  6. 6


    So basically, you are saying is I didnt have the “official” clarification from DRDO on whatever I asked for. and I can publish anything I like on it, without researching on the facts, because they didnt reply.
    From a pure journalistic POV, it makes sense, but not from a ethical one. I dont remember you to have published the disclaimer, that the data(facts) I published might be outdated and so may not hold true as on today, because the drdo did not update those! You had access to priviliged docs from the parliamentary committees (through some contacts) but could not get access to those in DRDO (Its another matter that I saw you in orkut trying to do the same but achieving practically nothing). the data in those parliamentary committees could itself be dated! You didnt say so while you wrote the articles. You presented the entire series as though the position of the projects was on the day of writing, instead of saying that they were long ago.
    Interesting to say the least!

  7. 7


    Oh! btw, I am observing a new thing in your blogs these days. You are trying to hide behind a curtain is it?
    All the blogs you are taking up on DRDO, these days are frankly selective third-person comments. I would like see what YOUR comments are on it? Instead of publishing “90%” of the article of HT, if you would have just given the url and told what your observations are on that article, it would have been better.


  8. 8


    Mr. Aroor, I sincerely appreciate your efforts to obtain the viewpint or clarifications from DRDO. But despite having unable to have obtained so, your series of articles were “anti-DRDO”.

    I am not hinting towards journalism ethics etc. but I’m afraid the report was biased against DRDO at the very outset, so much so that I am very sorry to say, but say I will, that even if you had obtained reactions from DRDO, the content of your series of articles may have remained the same with a statement something like, “When we contacted DRDO, they outrightly denied any wrongdoing, and exhibited ignorance about fiascos which were actually their own making

    Sir, I request you to please stop this tirade, nay campaign, nay this crusade against any indigenous scientific development.
    Had the Brahmos been an entirely Indian product (with no foreign input) it would equally have been “deriled” as and I quote, “Despite the DRDO’s grandiose claims that Brahmos is the “fastest” and only supersonic cruise missile, here are the facts :- With a range of a puny 300 kms, a ship will have to go deep into international waters to bring it within striking distance of Karachi. The Pakistanis have very successfully test-fired the 500-km range Babur missile and have extended the range to 700 kms. These are meaningful ranges. Why build a show-piece Brahmos when you have the Prithvis ? It defies logic. Fact 2 : It is not even a cruise missile, but merely an anti-ship missile, which is being “modified” to suit the Army. It is more like the Iraqi Scud which flew high and were shot by American ABMs. Needless to say, the Army is likely to reject this showpiece Scud-replica, unless its range or utility is increased.”

    Regarding wastage of money on Trishul, it may be mentioned that the entire Trishul program has cost only $70 million dollars since inception 20 years back, but the payment for a 50% test-failure Barak missile in 1999 was $1.1 billion upfront. Regardless of the fact that the Navy is very satisfied with Barak, had even a fraction of such “astronomical” sums been spent on Trishul, it would have been on all Indian destroyers today instead of Barak.

    Anyway, I may disagree with one view as expressed by Cdre. Rai that the contractor of MRCA may also be contracted for the radar and weaponry of Tejas. As per news reports, the Tejas has already begun installation of Israeli Elta phased-array radar, and its weaponry shall constitute Russian missiles.

    In my view, since Tejas is progressing at a fast pace now with LSP-1 having test-flown and 3 to 4 weekly test-flights, it shall achieve IoC much sooner than the RFPs for MRCA are released. Thus, the very purpose of MRCA may be defeated, and 125 Tejas planes may instead be inducted.
    The only hurdle may be its misnomer “tag” of “Light Combat Aircraft”, despite its performance parameters like range and payload being equivalent to Gripen (an MRCA contender) and MiG-29KUB (for Navy).

    I think Tejas may now be removed from the “stack of failures” by the media, now that it is progressing fast.

    Thank you.

  9. 9

    Shiv Aroor

    Ravi, i don’t know which blogs you’re talking about. I’ve been posting all forms of opinion on DRDO on this blog, both positive and critical. Please scroll through the whole blog to find out for yourself. Regarding my opinion on DRDO, i posted quite early: livefist.blogspot.com/2007/02/not-just-high-altitude-chikki.html please particularly see the last part of the piece — one how the country is definitely better placed if we could buy all our hardware from indigenous sources. again, i urge you to have a look at other parts of this blog (when you have a moment!).

  10. 10



    >> about the other points you’ve made, since they pertain to cmde rai’s piece, let me send them on to cmde rai and see what he has to say. about the akash, the only report i have my hands on specifically states an “unacceptable” accuracy level at ceiling range.

    My comments werent about Cmde Rais article, but about the article that appeared in HT. I find myself in agreement with what Cmde Rai is saying, things like ~

    “The services must admit they failed to constantly monitor, guide and spoon feed projects like the Arjun MBT, the 7.62mm INSAS rifle and LCA but came in at the preliminary trial stages, with criticism. This lesson seems to have been learnt.”

    although I dont like the word spoonfeed, but then not everybody needs to agree on everything. 🙂

    About the other part of your comment where you sent a mail to PRO DRDO and they didnt reply, well, when you needed to get comments from the services folks about DRDO products, you didnt sent a mail to PRO Army HQ, did you ? Most of the comments are from vocal retired folks, or anonymouse people currently in the Army/AF HQ. Why don’t you talk to people actually involved in the projects ? People who have retired from DRDO/young serving scientists and so on ?

    Jab aap army walon se baat kar sakte ho, to DRDO walo se baat karne me kya hichak ? You cant just say I sent a mail to the DRDO PRO and he didnt reply..

  11. 11


    i) DRDO Debate deserves further debate, actually two articles clubbed into one. No comments on either of them, except saying you would have used Rais article.
    I enjoyed reading Arun Prakash’s articles, but would not count them in here.
    A3 and Credible N-Deterrence- only comment is again nice. Since it mostly talks about deterrence and less on drdo, i would not count this one also.
    Sagarika, the Secret New Missile, same goes for this post.

    The Army’s Pay Commission Demands! You gave your views on this, good. again not related to drdo, so leaving it off.
    ii)Forces on Review — Why is DRDO Stagnating?- You called a piece calling drdo stagnating as balanced, only comment by you on this article.
    iii) M Natarajan on Agni-III- no comments on this event either.
    iv) Look whos talking- only comment is nice.
    next post is by mihir, followed by one on srilanka by you.
    v)Pantheon of Holy cows.- You just throw something and say I have made up my mind but do not care to reveal it us ignoramus.
    Ah!finally, Astra BVRAAM Tests to continue- You posted your views/comments/facts on this good. So finally the first views of you on anything related to DRDO. after five posts, without any of your comments.

    Basically I have read all of your posts on this blog.(Ah! I am already feeling bored to have to go and recheck on each post, I had read previously. probably next time i will cover all the posts remaining.)
    If the original website doesnt provide for archiving, I fully support copying the entire text even without commenting. Except in that extreme scenario or if it is something like an email from Rai or exclusive interview with Arun prakash, is it worthwhile to post the entire article?, without an iota of own thoughts from the blogger….

    I also understand one thing over here, this is your personal blog and can and infact should take the shape, which you wish. I practically should have no say in this.

    Oh! that post, I knew that it was part of your opinion. But I thought that it was written as part of the Express team, and so it might be not your “exclusive” opinion.

    Completely unrelated to the above things. I actually wanted to ask you something about copyrights, since you work in the publishing industry. You have posted articles from a wide variety of sources. Do we have ask from each of their permission to reproduce here(even with the copyright@xxx sign)? If we just post that sign, can we copy anything and paste on our webpage/blog? What does the copyright law say on this in conjunction with it -2000 law?


  12. 12


    The 11:27 PM comment was from me 🙂

    Let me also add, from your pieces, it looks like you took the time to go and talk to a lot of services people, retired, anonymous-serving people etc., but when it came to talking to DRDO people, you just sent a mail to the PRO asking him to comment..

    There isnt the same level of effort by you guys to talk to DRDO scientists, is my opinion.


  13. 13

    Shiv Aroor

    two quick points: nobody in active service from the armed forces ever talks about weapons programmes. all programmes can only be commented on by the apex development body (i.e. DRDO). all queries sent to armed forces were summarily returned with the comments, “please refer to Department of R&D”. point 2: retired armed forces officers were only talking heads. thirdly, you’re suggestion that we talk to “others” at DRDO is ridiculous. do you even know how DRDO collectively already views the media? with the deepest and most cynical suspicion. i don’t blame them to be very honest. we’ve even looked for feedback on orkut — that’s how much we actually wanted some feedback from the ground, but most of it was flames! we had the documents. what we were doing was giving people a chance to comment. and what’s odd with sending a request to a PRO with express written permission from the MoD for DRDO to talk to us? that’s the green light. what do you want us to do? speak to kalam? they didn’t act. period.

  14. 14


    I have been following the discussions. What Shiv Aroor is doing is illegal and unethical. He is sitting in an press organisation and misusing his organisations authority to get at high places and bloging it.

    I suppose this has to be brought to notice of his employers whether he has told tem or not.

  15. 15


    In my view, the so-termed “Unacceptable accuracy at ceiling range” is nothing else but a demand for more range than the earlier IAF-approved range of 27 kms.

    Instead of admitting that the Akash works perfectly at the earlier IAF-approved range of 27 kms, the IAF is being critical by saying that it has low-range.

    This may be similar to my ordering a small ice-cream, but when the waiter comes with it, I criticize by saying that it is not as large as the big ice-cream, instead of acknowledging that I myself gave the wrong order in the first place.

    This may also be the same occurence, vis-a-vis the “sudden” request to redesign Tejas’ composite wings in Jan 2004.

    In my view, the report lacks technical parameters and appears like a lay-man’s observation what with, “parts falling”, and “13 meter mast”. The DRDO should present to the MoD, precise test-data and a thorough technical report of Akash’s tests to “silence” IAF’s criticisms.

    Thank you.

  16. 16

    Shiv Aroor

    anon, illegal and unethical? i don’t report for the blog, but for my organisation. i started this blog as a platform to interact with an audience and detractors. and that seems to be working just fine! thanks for your thoughts!

  17. 17


    IMO, the problem is manifold;

    One, DRDO’s PR machinery is almost useless… if you notice, most of the times, it is the Directors who arrange for information distribution and do the work of the PROs, while they go missing.

    Secondly, there are enough Army and Air Force officers, both serving and retired who are more than willing to shoot their mouths off about the DRDO projects and gain some sound bytes. DRDO scientists, on the other hand, are more reserved, and do not give statements often. Added to that, there are more highly ranked army officers than there are Defence scientists. The flow of information is obviously more from the Army and IAF side.

    Thirdly, most defence correspondents have little or no knowledge on defence information, which makes them unsuitable for analysis or objective reporting. It is obvious then that they would just report from press releases or what the retired officers talk about.

    Added to that is the extremely strong and influential arms lobby from foreign firms who would stand to gain from DRDO getting bad press.

    And when writers like Rajat Pandit and Mr. Aroor criticize the DRDO without reporting their side of the story, it obviously builds resentment in the DRDO, and I wouldn’t blame them for their attitude towards the press corps.

    In fact, if the press bashing of DRDO continues, I wouldn’t venture near any missile test. It might just ‘veer’ off course and accidentally slam into the press box :)…. after all the bad press DRDO gets, a failure wouldn’t be so uncommon would it??

  18. 18


    The cynicism displayed by DRDO can be understandable given the “quality” of the articles by the Indian Media defence analyst. Wouldn’t the drdo consider that the media is not fit enough to report defence related news,given the ignorance displayed by the media when reporting defence news.
    Take the example of Akash in the blog.
    When the reports says “part falling off”,does he bother to indicate which phase it was? It seems like he is passing on this failure as the current state of the missile. It is a different story altogether than u browse through youtube and u will find a Akash interception video there! And I am yet to see “any parts falling”.

    Now consider that if I am one of the member of the Akash team and read the report what will be my reaction. Would I be impressed by the writer who “reports” a years old test as the current state of the missile?
    Would I “gladly” respond to queries by the writer for “the other side” of the story? Frankly speaking i wont give a damn to queries which asks me to respond on “parts falling” ,which would probably happened in the first few tests.

    Also what I observe in our dear Indian media is that other then the favourites like Trishul,Akash,LCA ,Arjun,and Nag I dont see any “reporting” on hundreds on other projects which DRDO has done.
    These projects which were one of the first ones carried out by DRDO is still being considered as “current state of DRDO failures”. Frankly it is getting very boring with the same age old reports being milked with new words and passed on as the current news.
    Even if I consider all these projects as failure,what would be failure rate? 5-6 out of hundreds of projects? such a low percentage?
    ghee. even the US would be ashamed…they have far higher failure rates.

  19. 20



    Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has spent about 8 – 10 % of its annual budget on fundamental research during the last three years.

    DRDO is the development agency whose products, after being made by the production agency, are delivered to the users. Stringent quality systems are in place at several stages before a product is put to use. Based on the operational feedback, matters at times get referred to the development agency. Corrective actions, wherever necessary have been taken up by the DRDO.

    The defence expenditure on imports has come down as a result of DRDO’s projects. The cumulative value of the DRDO developed products amounts to about Rs. 30,000 crore. This amount can thus be attributed to the reduction in defence expenditure on import.

    This information was given by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri Naveen Jindal in Lok Sabha today.

  20. 21


    Here is some thing which might enlighten you regarding what the user thinks.

    Intreview of Wg Cdr J S Gavankar, Senior Software Engineer (Avionics), Indian Air Force


  21. 22


    Hello Shiv

    Sorry about the late response, I was a bit busy with work.

    I second what ‘anonymous’ said in one of the comments above:

    1) there simply arent as many defense scientists who are talked to by the media as compared to ex/serving defense services officers;

    2) The forces dont really understand technology from a lifecycle perspective or from a handson development perspective. What is the internal technology capability of the IA ? (Lets leave AF and Navy out, they are more technical). How many officers have degrees in engineering or any real world experience designing something that they are considered competent enough to comment on RnD projects ? They bring in competent viewpoints from a field user perspective, but little else besides that.

    3) There appears to be a media witch hunt going on against DRDO.. For instance, ToIs Rajat Pandit gleefully claimed DRDO to be a failure when Agni IIIs first launch didnt meet all test criteria. When the PAD test happened, he claimed that “DRDO pulled a new missile out of its hat”, stung by media criticism, no less. Is the cretin aware of how many man years of RnD it takes to conduct a test like the PAD ?

    I am not trying to lump you with Rajat Pandit, but Its coverage like this that probably turns off DRDO people.. Granted they need to learn how to be more media friendly, but a witch hunt against them, partially because they are not media friendly, is a disservice to the nation.


  22. 23

    Shiv Aroor

    I agree with your views about “pulled another missile out of its hat” etc. Second, the animosity between the DRDO and media is a chicken egg circumstance. where did it stem from?

    Remember last july when everyone reported the Agni-III test as a failure? I’d like to paste for you below, MY report in the express. i’m not trying to justify anything here to you, but make what inferences you want to:

    Agni-III test-fired off Orissa coast
    Express News ServicePosted online: Monday, July 10, 2006 at 0000 hrs

    NEW DELHI, JULY 9: India today test-fired Agni-III, its longest-range ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, in its debut flight off the Orissa coast.

    Later, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “The first phase of the launch was successful. In the second phase there was a technical snag, which is being analysed. This is nothing abnormal, it is being looked into.”

    The missile can deliver a one tonne warhead some 3,500 km away, bringing within reach Shanghai and Beijing. Defence establishment experts describe it as India’s credible second-strike capability deterrent.

    Fired from Wheeler Island, part of the missile testing zone off the Orissa coast, the 16-metre-long Agni-III followed a “predicted ballistic trajectory” before hitting a designated target spot near the Nicobar Islands. The flight path was tracked by electro-optical and telemetric sensors, three radars and high resolution cameras.

    Mukherjee and his scientific advisor, DRDO chief M Natarajan, were at Wheeler Island to witness the launch. According to DRDO, Agni III marks a complete transformation from the technologies used in the two earlier Agni versions, and includes advanced counters to anti-ballistic missile measures.

    The test gives the Defence establishment the analytical and technical vindication to push towards its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme, called Surya, envisaging missiles with effective ranges of 9,000-12,000 kms or more.

    Agni-III is comparable to Pakistan’s Ghauri-III and China’s Dongfeng, though the latter has progressively evolved into a full-fledged ICBM programme — it’s currently being tested to develop the Dongfeng-41, with an effective range of 14,000 kms.

    Agni-III had purportedly been ready for a launch for at least the last 18 months, though a variety of considerations are understood to have come into play, including hectic diplomatic activity with Washington over the civilian nuclear deal.

    The defence minister has indicated that there was no US pressure on the programme’s progress or the launch, though today’s test, coming as it does when the civilian nuclear deal is not through yet, appears to send out a firm message that the country’s indigenous weapons programme is independent.

    http://www.indianexpress.com/story/8201.html is the link.

    The point i’m trying to make here is there are no agendas. Some of us wish to tell it like it is, and want more opennness that’s all. criticism will flow, but if it has the subject on board.. why not? like i said, chicken-egg.

  23. 24


    there are of course Agendas shiv, do you take us all for fools? it was an open secret in IE that Shekhar the Gupta had pushed for the hatchet job on DRDO y’all conducted. i even spoke to the worthy person at a dig where he was very proud of how “his boys” followed his suggestions. now for you to claim innocence is rich. your employer runs with the cohens,the Amriki crowd, runs down DRDO, DAE at every opportunity, you do his bidding and then claim innocence! saala at every function, he pushes the nuclear deal and disparages the local crowd…kitna paise khaya hain..

    how are you different from pandit, thapar, sawheny or shukla?

    please tell us whether you have even got a basic engineering degree or diploma?

    but you are a defense correspondent and we should take ur words as holy? ya right!

  24. 25


    Ravi, i don’t know which blogs you’re talking about. I’ve been posting all forms of opinion on DRDO on this blog, both positive and critical. Please scroll through the whole blog to find out for yourself. Regarding my opinion on DRDO, i posted quite early: livefist.blogspot.com/2007/02/not-just-high-altitude-chikki.html please particularly see the last part of the piece — one how the country is definitely better placed if we could buy all our hardware from indigenous sources. again, i urge you to have a look at other parts of this blog (when you have a moment!).

    that article was a pile of bullshit if i may be so rude. just because u media types have no science background!

    drdo radars, sonars, electronic warfare item are in bulk service not to mention its work on nukes and strategic missiles, but u talk of chikki!

    abe even in life sciences, most of armys nbc gear is from drdo, what timepass people you are man..

    u talk of accountability for drdo, wheres urs? will u resign ur job for all the bullshit you have written?

    obviously scientists will regard you as dishonest for the way you have reported.

  25. 26


    shoot i just saw this and was flabbergasted. aroor you are a total chutiya or naive chap boss..or you are trying to make chutiyas of us. ranjit rai is himself an agent, a shill for several russian concerns of the arms selling kind, and you quote him as an expert. kya bosslog ho yaar aaplog. 😡


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