Most of India’s aerospace needs, be it the defence sector or the civilian one, are still largely met by exports from the US, Russia or Israel. However, that landscape might soon change. DRDO is all set to partner with two of India’s top IITs in terms of aerospace, and thus invest a whopping $62 Million, in what could easily be one of Indian Government’s biggest investment into research till date.
As per reports, DRDO will give 180 crores each to IIT Madras and IIT Bombay and will also spend another 50-60 crores on infrastructure development at IIT Bombay which will be the new administrative headquarters of Centre for Propulsion Technology. This could pretty much be in line with NASA’s similar initiatives, wherein the space agency develops huge R&D centers in institutes and uses them for its own launches as well.
An MOU has been signed among three parties which is pending for approval with Ministry of Defence and is expected to be completed in a couple of months.
In addition to IIT Madras and IIT Bombay which will serve as nodal centres, there will be three other IITs — Kharagpur, Guwahati and Bhubaneshwar, along with NIT Surat who will be associates in this one of its first kind research to be undertaken by Government of India.
This new initiative can be seen as a result of Modi Government’s continued emphasis on the “Make-In-India” project, as well as the restructuring of DRDO under new defence minister Manohar Parikkar and new DRDO chief, in response to frequent flaks by CGA.
This is one of the biggest investments by the government into academic research and cuts to the root of the Make in India campaign,
said SR Chakravarthy, a professor of aerospace engineering, who is in charge of the project at IIT Madras.
The major focus of research will be on products and technology currently under development at DRDO, some of which include rockets for long-range missiles, aircrafts that can morph into missiles, hypersonic flights and gas turbine engine to run aircraft and for missile propulsion.
Initially, DRDO will be the primary funding agency but there are plans to bring in private partners to collaborate with the professors undertaking research at both these institutes.
About 45 faculty members across eight departments at IIT Madras and 25 faculty members at IIT Bombay will be working on the research with 3-4 small groups of professors from associate institutes.