Twenty-three of the 55 high-priority projects being implemented by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) could not meet the deadlines, the government informed Parliament on Monday.

The high-priority projects included developing anti-air field weapons, surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, long-range radars, combat vehicles, combat suits for submarines and submarine periscopes. Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt provided the details in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

“Currently, there are 55 numbers of ongoing MM (Mission Mode) projects such as anti-air field weapons, solid fuel ducted ramjet technology, surface to air missiles, anti-ship missiles, long range radars, combat vehicles, high endurance autonomous underwater vehicles, combat suits for submarines, submarine periscopes etc.,” he said.

“Of these 55 numbers of ongoing MM projects, 23 numbers did not meet deadlines. Of the 23 numbers of ongoing MM projects which did not meet the deadlines, nine have undergone cost overruns. However, not all cost overruns were necessitated due to time overruns,” Mr Bhatt said.

The minister, however, did not provide the details about the deadlines and period of implementation of the projects.

A total of 1,35,743 posts, including 8,070 at the level of officers, were lying vacant in the Indian Army as on March 10, according to data provided by Mr Bhatt.

According to the details, a total of 19,678 vacancies were filled up between January 1 and March 10.

Mr Bhatt said the number of vacancies of junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and other ranks as on March 10 was 1,27,673 and the number of vacancies at the level of officers was 8,070.

The minister said 19,065 vacancies of JCOs and other ranks were filled up between January 1 and March 10.

The number of vacancies filled up in the category of officers during the period was 613.

To a separate question, Mr Bhatt said the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) concluded a contract with Mauritius in January last year for the export of an advanced light helicopter (ALH) Mk III and associated deliverables.

The total contract value was USD 17.67 million (around ? 141.52 crore).

According to the contract, the delivery was to be completed in 18 months, whereas the HAL completed it ahead of the schedule.