DRDO appoints top UAV brain as CEMILAC chief executive

DRDO appoints top UAV brain as CEMILAC chief executive
Prasad was the recipient of Scientist of the Year Award in 2016 in addition to various other recognitions in his career.

Bengaluru: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has appointed top UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) scientist A P V S Prasad as the chief executive of the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).

CEMILAC is a pivotal arm of DRDO that provides airworthiness certification support to desi missions in addition to clearing upgrades and integration of imported and indigenous systems.

Prasad took charge on May 31 following the superannuation of P Jayapal.

Rustom brain

Prasad was earlier the Programme Director of Rustom-II UAV mission at Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a DRDO arm mandated to develop unmanned systems.

Rustom-II is a MALE (medium altitude long endurance) UAV capable of undertaking missions for surveillance and reconnaissance. It is currently under development at ADE.

DRDO sources say that Prasad was earlier given the task to revive the Rustom-II project when it was moving at a slow pace. As PGD Rustom-II, he was responsible for getting the platform ready for its successful maiden flight from DRDO’s Aeronautical Test Range in Chitradurga.

Techno-managerial skills

Prasad’s techno-managerial skills and ability to convert challenges into solutions had caught the eye of DRDO top brass in Delhi.

He was the recipient of Scientist of the Year Award in 2016 in addition to various other recognitions in his career. He was also the recipient of the Lab Scientist of the Year Award in 1998.

Prior to moving to CEMILAC, Prasad was working in the Defence Avionics and Research Establishment (DARE), a DRDO wing that primarily looked into the needs of airborne electronic warfare and avionics systems for armed forces.

According to ADE insiders, Prasad has close to three decades of experience in design and development of various sub-systems for UAVs. His expertise includes design and development of data links, avionics, payloads, software-defined radios, altimeters and airborne radars.

The 51-year-old scientist is among one of the youngest in DRDO to have been appointed to this top post.

Prasad’s appointment as CE CEMILAC is a pointer towards the series of reforms being now put in place by the current DRDO regime.

Reforms set in

Many efficient scientists who were denied an opportunity to climb the career ladder earlier have been given a fresh look by the current DRDO top brass. Sources say that all these ‘revival missions’ are being executed with zero fanfare.

CEMILAC comes under the administrative purview of DRDO’s Director-General Aero Cluster Dr Tessy Thomas.

At CEMILAC, Prasad has to oversee the airworthiness certification activities of many indigenous projects including aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, airborne stores, integration of weapons and upgrade programmes for imported fighters.

The first Tejas FOC (final operational clearance) fighter (SP-21) will be among the ongoing projects that would knock at the doors of CEMILAC for certification this year.

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