DRDO to open 5,000-acre range in Chitradurga by mid-year

K. Tamilmani heads thedozen labs of theDRDO aeronautical cluster.  

A part of the 5,000-acre DRDO Aeronautical Test Range at Chitradurga is now ready to be inaugurated around June.

It will begin activities for a few flight projects in about six months and expand the range in stages, a top DRDO official said here on Saturday.

The ATR, costing a total of Rs. 2,500 crore, is being developed at Challakere taluk of Chitradurga, about 200 km from here.

K. Tamilmani, Director-General (Aero R&D) who heads the dozen or so labs of the DRDO aeronautical cluster, said on the sidelines of a seminar that runway, air traffic control tower and test installations together costing Rs. 350 crore had been constructed at the campus.

With this, the DRDO can start testing some of the indigenous products being developed, including the naval and trainer versions of the Light Combat Aircraft, the unmanned air vehicles Rustom 1 and 2; and the Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems meant for surveillance.

Apart from the DRDO, the Chitradurga multi-agency mega complex will house facilities of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation and the Indian Institute of Science. Dr. Tamilmani said the DRDO had estimated that its aeronautical segment alone would need critical, high-value test facilities worth Rs. 10,000 crore over the next 10 years for various indigenous plans. They include an aerodynamic test facility, an engine test facility and test ranges for aircraft and helicopters that were under development. A 26-acre engine test facility costing Rs. 1,500 crore was planned at Rajanukunte near Bengaluru.

The seminar was organised by the NGO, Engineering India foundation, and Bengaluru-based computer simulation technology based company Pro-SIM.