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Sunday, April 11, 2010

IAF vice-chief prefers reverse engg to build defence systems

IAF Vice-Chief Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora today suggested India should go the Chinese way by gathering technical data to produce defence equipment through reverse engineering.

Addressing a gathering at a convention of The Frontiers of Aeronautical Technologies and 61st AGM in Bangalore, Air Marshal Babora said, “Do reverse engineering. Don't be scared. Our neighbours are already doing it. If someone does not give you, and you want it, do reverse engineering.” His comments, however, might not go down well with Americans and Europeans, who are finding it hard to protect their intellectual property rights.

Reverse engineering is a process of analysing a technology to ascertain how it was designed. The knowledge is then used to build the equipment or system or make improvements to it without using any physical part of the original. Critical of the defence industry’s inability to be self-reliant in producing indegenous systems for defence and aerospace requirements, Air Marshal Barbora said, “We have got the best brains, but it has to be focussed to get the product.”

Prodding the defence establishment and manufacturers to go for joint ventures and get the technological knowhow of systems, Barbora said: “No country has produced fighter aircraft on its own. It has been a joint effort of like-minded countries.” Barbora said India was technologically less literate than Russia and China because it had no access to middle-level technologies following World War-II. “Now, a lot of private players have emerged in India, but they are playing rough because of rules and regulations.”

He also asked the private sector to focus on core competence instead of trying to manufacture the entire aircraft from scratch. “We must not dilute our core competency,” he said. Citing China’s efforts, the Air Marshal said while the country was already producing entire airbuses, Indian companies were proud and satisfied to produce a few small parts like doors and undercarriages.

“When China can manufacture an Airbus, why not India? Though we are a major economic power to reckon with in South Asia, we have not leveraged it to bargain for greater access to aerospace technologies or attracting overseas investment through joint ventures to develop our state-run or private industry,” he rued. The Indian Air Force is buying equipment worth billions of dollars every year. However, the benefits of these are not reaching the private sector in the absence of a “national policy framework or national technology plan”.

“A sound national policy will enable stakeholders to work within a timeframe and deliver the equipment required for the armed forces, especially the IAF,” Barbora said.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/iaf-vice-chief-prefers-reverse-engg-to-build-defence-systems/391506/

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