Unhappy with funds cut in budget 2013, A K Antony bats for R&D

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SummaryHe also appealed to the private sector to make use of the defence offsets and put more funds into R&D

With the Finance Ministry deciding to cut defence modernisation budget by Rs 10,000 crore, Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday indicated that he was unhappy with the funds being allotted for Research and Development (R&D).

Addressing a seminar on aerospace here ahead of Aero India 2013, Antony more than once said that the government should give more funds to defence R&D. He also appealed to the private sector to make use of the defence offsets and put more funds into R&D.

In his address, Antony said that though Indian economy is growing at a fast rate, it is important to invest in R&D for the momentum to keep going. Cheap availability of labour and natural resources is not likely to continue for long and that if India wants to be among the top economies in the world, “we must give more emphasis on R&D and spend more money on R&D”. Indigenisation is the way forward, he said.

Antony said that though he is proud of the DRDO’s recent achievements — with three Padma awards — he is not fully happy with the agency’s delay in delivering defence equipment. He said that while the DRDO has been talking about initial operational clearance for home-developed Tejas aircraft, all he is waiting for is the final operational clearance of the aircraft.

Antony also said that he was unhappy with the delay of the much-awaited Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) and appealed to the gathering of DRDO scientists he would want DRDO to announce the success of IJT. The non delivery of IJT has long disrupted IAF’s training module resulting in rookie IAF pilots directly flying MiG 21s, in many cases leading to crashes.

In the backdrop of delays on part of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Antony said that it is time HAL gets a rival as the best comes out only when there is healthy competition from the private sector.

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