The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is building a new test range in Chitradurga district in Karnataka for its aeronautics missions for flight-testing sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), air-to-ground weapons, huge parachutes, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, aerostats and also for testing electronic warfare systems.
The DRDO already has an Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea, near Balasore, Orissa, from where different missiles are flight-tested. Wheeler Island, off the Orissa coast, comes under this ITR and it is from here that Agni series of missiles are flight-tested.
Prahlada, Chief Controller, Research and Development (Aeronautics and Services Interaction), DRDO, said the new test range in Chitradurga district would cover 4,000 acres. The DRDO had already acquired the land for the range. The range will include a runway.
“We are creating a new range, where the UAVs, small air-to-ground weapons, parachutes and aerostats will be tested. It will be a big range and it will take three years to completely equip the range. It will be an important facility coming up in India,” he said.
Mr. Prahlada said the DRDO was keen that the railways should extend a railway track to the new test facility. The Karnataka government was fully cooperating with the DRDO for establishing this test range and “we are working together,” he said. The Karnataka government had a master-plan to establish a high-technology knowledge park in Chitradurga district, Mr. Prahalada added.
W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, R and D (Life Sciences), DRDO also praised the Karnataka government's “full support” to the project. “We have commenced the work in building the test range. It will be a modern facility for testing the UAV Nishant. You need a complete runway for testing the UAVs,” he said.
Dr. Selvamurthy said the DRDO would undertake a new project called Rustom on medium altitude, long endurance UAVs. This project had been approved by the Union Cabinet Committee on Security. “All this will be tested in Chitradurga,” he added.