"As early as" generally means "no sooner than". It may or may not indicate surprise. It does indicate uncertainty.
The election result may be known as early as 10 pm election night.
This is a statement of predicted fact, it is not particularly surprising. It says that the results will not be known before 10pm, but may be known then, or mat be known at some later time or date. In this usage, the even has not yet happened.
We may announce the winners as early as tomorrow.
The winners will not be announced before tomorrow. They may be announced tomorrow, or on some later day. Presumably the decision has not yet been made when to make the announcement. Or at least the decision is not yet public.
The DRDO announced it as early as 2011
Since this is in the past, the announcement did or did not happen in 2011. This form is used when the speaker's knowledge is incomplete. It is known that the DRDO made the announcement, but not whether it was in 2011 or in a later year. But it is known that it was not in some earlier year.
The DRDO announced it as early as in 2011.
This is awkward and should not be used. "in" here is redundant. "as early as 2011" implies "in 2011" as 2011 designates a period, a year.
X happened as early as T
X is known not to have happened before T, and may have happened as soon as T, or may have happened later than T. T specifies a time, either explicitly or by comparison with some other event. It is at least implied that X did happen.
X will happen as early as T
This is a prediction. X will not happen before T. It may happen at T, or at some later time. It is at least implied that X is expected to happen.