The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is a agency of the Republic of India, responsible for the development of technology for use by the military, headquartered in New Delhi, India. It was formed in 1958 by the merger of Technical Development Establishment and the Directorate of Technical Development and Production with the Defence Science Organisation.
DRDO has a network of 52 laboratories which are deeply engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronic and computer sciences, human resource development, life sciences, materials, missiles, combat vehicles development and naval research and development. The organization includes more than 5,000 scientists and about 25,000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was established in 1958 by amalagamating Defence Science Organisation and some of the technical development establishments. A separate Department of Defence Research and Development was formed in 1980 which later on administered DRDO and its 50 laboratories/establishments. Most of the time the Defence Research Development Organisation was treated as if it was a vendor and the Army Headquarters or the Air Headquarters were the customers. Because the Army and the Air Force themselves did not have any design or construction responsibility, they tended to treat the designer or Indian industry at par with their corresponding designer in the world market. If they could get a MiG 21 from the world market, they wanted a MiG 21 from DRDO. DRDO started its first major project insurface-to-air missiles (SAM) known as Project Indigo in 1960s. Indigo was discontinued in later years without achieving full success. Project Indigo led to Project Devil, along with Project Valiant, to develop short-range SAM and ICBM in the 1970s. Project Devil itself led to the later development of the Prithvi missile under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program(IGMDP) in the 1980s. IGMDP was an Indian Ministry of Defence program between the early 1980s and 2007 for the development of a comprehensive range of missiles, including the Agni missile, Prithvi ballistic missile, Akash missile, Trishul missile and Nag Missile. In 2010,then defence minister A.K. Antony ordered the restructing of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to give 'a major boost to defence research in the country and to ensure effective participation of the private sector in defence technology'.The key measures to make DRDO effective in its functioning include the establishment of a Defence Technology Commission with the defence minister as its chairman. The programs which were largely managed by DRDO has seen considerable success with many of the systems seeing rapid deployment as well as yielding significant technological benefits. DRDO has many success since its establishment in developing other 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, missile systems.
In 2009, The P Rama Rao committee, which was formed to revamp the organisation, has said that the major cause for delays and failures of indigenous defence products is DRDO’s tendency to over-estimate its capabilities. The inability of the research body to involve the Armed Forces in developmental projects from the start has been identified as a major area of concern.
The committee recommended to the government that DRDO should undertake all projects in the future on a joint developmental basis and involve foreign partners to imbibe global standards. DRDO’s tendency of overstretching itself to reinvent the wheel has also been noted and the committee has said that foreign help should be taken “without any reservations” in future projects.