India's Defense Research and Development
Organization (DRDO) has fumbled yet again. This time it's a pilotless (drone)
target aircraft. Called the PTA (Pilotless Target Aircraft), it has been in
development for 27 years, and consumed over $36 million. The first three were
finally delivered, and the air force found them unable to perform as promised.
Some of the major deficiencies were inability to operate at the promised 28,000
foot altitude (the PTA was barely able to reach 20,000 feet.) Worse, the PTA
could only survive about five landings, not the ten they are supposed to be
able to handle.
usually tow targets for anti-aircraft gunners, but also are used (one, of
course) as targets for air-to-air or surface-to-air missiles. The biggest
problem appears to be with the engine, which has not been able to deliver the
promised power and reliability. The Indian Air Force is refusing to accept
anymore PTAs until the problems are fixed.
DRDO is a
network of 51 weapons and technology laboratories, employing over 30,000 people
(20 percent of them scientists and engineers.) DRDO has been screwing up
weapons development programs for half a century. Efforts to shape up DRDO have consistently
failed. It's all about politics (DRDO provides jobs for well connected people)
and nationalism (India wants to produce its own high tech weapons.) DRDO has
failed in most all areas (small arms, tanks, missiles and warplanes). The
failures have grown over the years, and created louder calls for reforms.
had some successes, which it publicizes as energetically as it can. It tries to
play down the failures, or simply tout them as partial successes. But compared
to defense industries in other nations, DRDO is an underperformer, and highly
resistant to reform.