AMCA—India’s stealth fighter jet completes design phase; awaits cabinet approval for the prototype: DRDO Chairman S. Kamat | The Financial Express

AMCA—India’s stealth fighter jet completes design phase; awaits cabinet approval for the prototype: DRDO Chairman S. Kamat

Sameer V Kamat was recently appointed as the Secretary DDR&D and Chairman of DRDO. He has been driving some of the most critical projects in field of Naval Systems and Materials Division of DRDO. In his first and exclusive interaction with Manish Kumar Jha of Financial Express online, Kamat outlines many breakthroughs in developing unmanned system, IAF’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and Light Tank.

AMCA—India’s stealth fighter jet completes design phase; awaits cabinet approval for the prototype: DRDO Chairman S. Kamat
Samir V. Kamat, Secretary DD R&D and Chairman DRDO

While DRDO has lately come up with many advanced level breakthroughs, critics point out delay in realizing unmanned aerial system. What are the factors?

DRDO has already developed medium altitude long endurance “MALE UAV TAPAS”. As on date, more than 150 flight trials of TAPAS UAV have been completed. During these flights, altitude and endurance has touched the desired requirements.

Non availability of some critical technologies like engine, and development of Twin Element Air foil Wing and Automatic Take Off and landing etc., were some of the constraints in realizing the UAV systems.

The long development cycle time for the initial projects can be attributed to the steep learning curve of R&D centers and indigenous industry. It is expected to reduce substantially for the subsequent platforms like high altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV, since most of the legacy knowledge, technologies and systems will be effectively leveraged by all R&D partners in academia, industry and DRDO laboratories.

ADA has completed the fabrication of AMCA at HAL with special material for 5th gen design. What is the next stage of development as Project is still waiting for final approval from the cabinet committee? What is the estimated cost that you look at and how will it unfold under the SPV mechanism which you earlier talked about?

Fabrication of AMCA has not been done yet. However, the preliminary design has been finalized. Design phase of AMCA is proceeding well by ADA team. However, the actual activity of prototype realization would begin after final approval of the Government.

AMCA programme will be undertaken through SPV involving Indian industries in a big way. The SPV would be involved in the prototype development, series production and providing life time/cycle support to the Indian Air Force.

AMCA development would be a major compliance to budget announcement of 2022-23 with respect to 25 per cent R&D budget allocation to industry and encouraging private industries to collaborate with DRDO through SPV model.

Could you talk about the Light Tank under 25 tonnes which is to be deployed in High altitude Areas (HAA)? DRDO took it under to develop in the shortest possible time. What is the prototype stage development.

DRDO has developed strong technology base for battle tanks having developed MBT Arjun. Indian Army has felt the need of light tanks, under 25 tonnes, for mountainous regions. DRDO is developing light tank through industry partner. The configuration has been worked out.

Work on the prototype of Light Weight Tank is in full swing and it is expected to be ready for production by next year. These tanks will be fitted with High Altitude Operable Power pack of 1000hp and capable of firing multiple ammunitions.

You also have been spearheading some of the structural changes, aiming to create many centers of excellence within DRDO. How are you doing this? Lately, it was reported that DRDO is facing fund crunch. What is your take on this?

In line with the vision of Prime Minister, DRDO has created 5 Young Scientists Laboratories in four cities viz, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad.

Each of these laboratories will work on a particular key advanced technology of importance to the development of futuristic defence systems viz, Artificial intelligence, Quantum technologies, Cognitive technologies, Asymmetric technologies and Smart materials.

The establishment of these five labs lays down the foundation for research and development of futuristic technologies. It will be a big leap forward for DRDO to be future ready in defence technologies.

Apart from these, DRDO has also collaborated with various academic institutes all over the country and established 10 DRDO Industry Academia Centres of Excellence (DIA-CoE). These CoEs have been established at different Universities/institutions throughout the country to develop critical technologies for enabling futuristic requirements of Armed Forces.

DRDO is providing financial support through the DIA-CoE in IITs/Universities to undertake science and technology projects and to create special test facilities in these Centres. We are processing more DIA-COEs at various technical institutions of high ranking.

Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) has recently approved setting up of six new DRDO Industry Academia Centres of Excellence at IIT (Kanpur), Kharagpur, Roorkee, BHU, Jodhpur, and Hyderabad. Each DIA-COE has identified technology verticals and is empowered to act as research node for all academic institutions in the country.

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