Hunt on for next ADA boss with Tejas FOC at striking distance
Bengaluru: The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) will have a new boss on April 1, 2017. Cmde Cadaba Devnath Balaji (Retd), who took over as the Director on July 3, 2015 will superannuate on March 31, at the age of 60 years.
An official with DRDO Bhawan in Delhi told Mathrubhumi on Wednesday that Cmde Balaji (Retd) wrote to them in December 2016 itself about the succession plan he had put in place at ADA. However, DRDO seems to have overlooked that plan now and instead constituted a Search Committee to pick up the next ADA boss.
“He wrote to Chairman DRDO (Dr S Christopher) about two of the senior-most ADA officials being groomed to take over the reins. We will have to wait and see if that suggestion has been accepted in full letter and spirit,” says the official.
The search committee is headed by Dr V S R Arunachalam with Dr V K Aatre (both former heads of DRDO) and Air Marshal Philip Rajkumar (Retd).
The two senior–most officials are R Swaminathan and Dr Girish Deodhare. Both are Associate Project Directors and Outstanding Scientists, with great insights into ADA’s activities.
Swaminathan has large-scale organizational skills and is an expert in material management. He has just above two years of service left.
Dr Deodhare is a scientist-technocrat and the brain behind developing the Flight Control System and CLAW (Control Laws) for LCA. He has around six years of service left.
Insiders in DRDO say that during Dr Christopher’s current regime, he has heavily relied upon his mentors Dr Arunachalam and Dr Aatre for all major decisions.
“They both have tremendous influence on matters related to DRDO even now. The formation of Search Committee is an indication towards this. An internal advertisement has been circulated within the organization inviting eligible candidates to head ADA,” says the official.
Interestingly, current National Aerospace Laboratories Director Dr Jitendra J Jadhav is another candidate who is also the fray. If NAL sources are to be believed, Dr Jadhav’s candidature is backed by a former Director of ADA. Dr Jadhav has joined NAL from ADA.
ADA is an autonomous body (a registered society) under Ministry of Defence (MoD). It is the nodal agency for the design and development of Light Combat Aircraft, with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) being its principal partner. A host of labs under DRDO, CSRI and many other private industries are linked to ADA, located in Bengaluru.
Interestingly, Cmde Balaji (Retd) becomes the first Director of ADA, who did not seek an extension.
The new incumbent will be the 5th Director of ADA. Among the earlier Directors were: P S Subramaniam (2005 to 2015), M B Verma (2002 to 2005) and Dr Kota Harinarayana (1985 to 2002).
‘The new ADA Director has his task cut out. The Final Operational Clearance of Tejas will be his first task. The next 10 years will be crucial for Tejas Mk-1. The Indian Air Force is sure to add new weapons and that will be another set of challenges. The new man must have a big picture and strategic plan in place. He should not get into a mindset that interferes into the nuts and bolts matters,” says the official, who reports to Chairman DRDO.
If DRDO fails to identify the next man by by April 1, then Cmde Balaji (Retd) would hand over the reins to the senior-most man R Swaminathan, as an interim measure.
(The writer is the Content Consultant with Mathrubhumi (English Online) and tweets @writetake.)