The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is a government organisation responsible for the research and development of defence technology in India. It has achieved many successes since its establishment in developing major systems and critical technologies such as aircraft avionics, UAVs, small arms, artillery systems, EW Systems, tanks and armoured vehicles, sonar systems, command and control systems and missile systems. Despite dealing with a lot of issues, the major one being the shortage of funds, it has proved its competence time and again by fulfiling the needs of the Armed Forces.
Here is a list of 10 lesser-known facts about India’s defense engine. Take a read.
1. Established in 1958, DRDO was formed by merging different defense organizations of the country at that time.
It was formed from the amalgamation of the then already functioning Technical Development Establishment (TDEs) of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP) with the Defence Science Organisation (DSO).
2. It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, with headquarters in New Delhi.
3. With over 30,000 employees, it is one of India’s largest and most diverse research organizations.
Presently, the organization is backed by over 5000 scientists and about 25,000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel.
4. It works with a network of 52 laboratories across the country, which are engaged in developing defense technologies.
The research covers various disciplines, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, combat vehicles, engineering systems, instrumentation, missiles, advanced computing and simulation, special materials, naval systems, life sciences, training, information systems and agriculture.
5. The first surface-to-air missile program of DRDO was called Project Indigo.
Project Indigo was an Indo-Swiss agreement to develop intermediate-range surface-to-air missiles which were started by India in 1962.
6. In 1983, The Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) was launched by the Ministry of Defence for the research and development of the comprehensive range of missiles.
During 1980, seeing the advancements in India’s missile technology, the International body MTCR decided to restrict access to any technology that would help India in its missile development program. This did not come in the way of DRDO and it went ahead with its project under the leadership of Dr. Abdul Kalam and successfully developed missiles like Prithvi, Trishul, Akash and Nag indigenously.
7. Divyachakshu (which means Divine Eye) is a Through Barrier Imaging Radar developed by DRDO and is capable of scanning through walls with up to 20–30 cm thickness.
The radar can produce real-time thermal images from the other side of the barrier up to a distance of 20 meters. It is now being used by the Indian Armed Forces in hostage rescue operations.
8. J Manjula is the first and the only woman Director General of DRDO.
In 2015, J Manjula was appointed as the first woman director general of the Defence Research and Development Organization’s Electronics and Communication Systems, one of the seven main clusters of DRDO.
9. In 2010, DRDO had produced a non-lethal plastic grenade which used resin from Bhoot Jolokia, one of the hottest chilies in the world.
A lead scientist was reported saying – “The chili grenade is a non-toxic weapon and when used would force a terrorist to come out of his hideout. The effect is so pungent that it would literally choke them.” Bhoot Jolokia is grown in Assam, northeast India.
10. The BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile, jointly developed by India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPOM, is the world’s fastest cruise missile.
Thanks to DRDO, India is the only country in the world with supersonic cruise missiles in their Army, Navy, and Air Force.