Startups on recruit list as govt seeks new defence tech push

India’s armed forces face several limitations in the ability to maintain what defence strategists refer to as “operational readiness”. The general consensus among experts is that these constraints arise not from a lack of spirit but a shortage of high-tech military hardware. The consensus is also that public sector research and development organisations, including behemoths like Defence Research and Development Organisation, have not been quite up to the job.
These constraints are telling in the rarefied echelons of top commanders who are responsible for the country’s security; they’re also being felt in hitches that the services face in day-to-day operations.
But the government appears to finally have decided to engage bright young minds, including technology startups, to bridge the gap between the military’s equipment needs and what it receives instead of relying solely on scientists in PSU research labs.
At DefExpo-2018, which starts on April 11 along ECR near Chennai, the Centre will for the first time launch a scheme to encourage startups to generate innovative ideas that can help solve the problems that theforcesfacein daily operations.
The government is looking to startups for solutions to tricky situations and snags like these: What does a helicopter pilot do in an emergency, given the fact that he cannot eject to safety, unlike pilots of fighter aircraft? How do troops stealthily entering a terrorist-occupied zone locate each other; and would a mobile app help in such circumstances? What happens when an aircraftenters hilly terrain and the pilotloseshissatellite signals and cannot navigate? In a battle againstdrones, how do artillery officers tell an enemy aircraft from a friendly one before shooting itdown?
The defence ministry has presented these four problems as part of a ‘hackathon’ that students and startups are competing in ahead of theexpo. While a hackathon may seem like fun and games, the government is serious about injecting fresh ideas into its military R&D system.
09/04/17 U Tejonmayam/The Times Of India

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