DRDO chief said the organization has resolved issues with the Ministry of Petroleum as the area where the facility is likely to come up falls under Krishna-Godavari basin.

A proposal to set up a long-range missile launch facility at Machilipatnam in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh at a projected cost of Rs. 1,000-crore is in the advanced stages of being firmed up, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) V.K. Saraswat said here on Saturday.

Once land is allocated, it would be operationalised in about three years, Mr. Saraswat said at a press conference after inaugurating the 26th national convention of aerospace engineers.

He said issues of safety and security raised by the Petroleum Ministry owing to the proposed facility’s proximity to the Krishna-Godavari Basin, where oil and natural gas exploration was on, were sorted out. “All that we are waiting for now is the allocation of 260 acres of land by the State government.”

Avinash Chander, Chief Controller, Research & Development, DRDO, said the organisation had similar facilities at Chandipur and Wheeler Island in Balasore of Odisha, to test fire the Agni, the Prithvi and other short range missiles. The new facility was ideal in terms of logistics and geographical advantages it could provide.

Mr. Saraswat recalled how India had carved out a niche though it was a late entrant in the domain of space technology. “We have a complete spectrum of technologies and more are in the pipeline,” he said adding that despite the excessive missile control policies of the developed nations, aerospace technology had developed appreciably in India.

He said though an estimated Rs. 80,000-crore worth research and development and production programmes were sanctioned and work was on, there were gaps that needed to be filled. He cited as examples the slow work on manufacturing capabilities of indigenous aircraft, aircraft engines and the like, and also pointed to the shortage of human resources.

Mr. Chander said the need of the hour for the country was a space security plan to protect its satellites and other payloads in orbit. In a changed security climate, aerospace technologies played a major role as they were a force multiplier with civil and military applications. From traditional wars on land and sea, the battleground had shifted to air in the past few decades, throwing up two dimensions in the form of cyber warfare and space security.

While cyber warfare was acknowledged as a threat and major initiatives to counter it with multilayered protection were in place, space systems did not have a similar shield as they were too remote for active protection. With nine active communication satellites and 12 payloads in orbit all it would take to neutralise them would about 50 to 60 anti-satellite weapons. While there were global treaties, he recalled that wars started with the violation of treaties and the tendency of treaties to change constantly with changing threat perceptions.


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