Defence Science and Technology Organization
|Headquarters||Chaklala, Punjab, Pakistan|
The Defence Science and Technology Organization (reporting name: DESTO) is a multi-disciplinary programme agency under the Ministry of Defence Production, dedicated for evaluation of science and technology for use by the military.
Its Director-General is a serving two-star general officer of the Pakistan Army, and is located at Chaklala cantonment. However, as an inter-services organisation it is overseen by the Joint Services Headquarters, and works closely with the Strategic Plans Division (SPD).
Created in 1963 in the Ministry of Defence, DESTO's clandestine work included in reverse engineering of the foreign technology and to avoid technological surprise from India. A limited amount knowledge of DESTO's project is available and much of its work is kept under secrecy.
Among its various responsibilities it is Pakistan's national centre of expertise in chemical and biological defence.
The DESTO was established in 1963 by the Ministry of Defence on the recommendation adopted from the National Science Commission. The DESTO was established in a view of avoiding any technological surprise from India. Since its foundation, scientists at DESTO reportedly started studying the Wind tunnel and the applications of the fluid dynamics; its contribution in the field of research and development is significant. During this time, DESTO began its secret programme on developing the rocket propelled 120-mm caliber high explosive mortar ammunition, variable time fuze, and free flight rockets.
Its further programmes included the evaluation and reverse engineering of the foreign technology for the use of by the military. DESTO conducts research and development on weapon systems, military technologies, and renders technical advice on weapons–related technological issues to the government. DESTO retains its expertise on variety of disciplines such as aerodynamics, propulsion, electronics, computer systems, engineering, explosives, metallurgy, chemical and biological defence. Since 2001, DESTO's multi-disciplinary infrastructure base is now available to public sector industry under commercial arrangements. Projects and research work at DESTO remains under strict secrecy and very few details of the projects are known to the public.
Involvement in nuclear weapons
By the early 1970s, DESTO maintained its classified projects towards the Wind tunnels and successfully reverse engineered its own version of the wind tunnel in 1974 roughly based on Dutch firm, the Stork-Werkspoor. Following the surprise nuclear test, Smiling Buddha, by India in 1974, PAEC chair Munir Ahmad Khan and Abdus Salam chaired a meeting with the officials of DESTO over the technological surprise of India. Zaman Sheikh—a chemical engineer from DESTO—was tasked to developed chemical explosive lenses, tampers, and triggering mechanized system, necessary in the technology of the fission weapon together with Hafeez Qureshi—a mechanical engineer. The codename for this project was Wah Group Scientists (WGS), and the work was done in the Metallurgical Laboratory at the Wah Cantonment in 1978. Later, it was renamed as Directorate for Technical Development (DTD), and was charged with the design testings of the weapons. After Pakistan conducted nuclear tests—codename: Chagai-I and Chagai-II—in May 1998, the United States Government identified and sanctioned DESTO for involvement in Pakistan's nuclear and missile programmes. The exact details of the work and contribution to missile systems remains under strict secrecy.
In 2000, it was reported that DESTO had achieved a major breakthrough in ammunition technology by developing ammunition for 120 mm mortar. DESTO's programme had ingeniously developed and manufactured ammunition for 120 mm mortar which has almost doubled the range of conventional ammunition with very less cost effect. Further tests were carried out by DESTO to check the technology and it enhanced the range of all artillery ammunition up to 30%.
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