Defence lab to set up new test range in Karnataka

October 31st, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 31 (IANS) The state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is setting up a new test range, the country’s second such, near Chitradurga, about 200 km from Bangalore, a top official said Friday.”The new test range will be located on the outskirts of Chitradurga at Kudapura Kaval on a 4,200 acre plot bought from the state government for Rs.12 crore (Rs.120 million). The cost of the project is estimated to be about Rs.1,000 crore (Rs.10 billion),” DRDO chief controller (R&D) Prahlada told reporters here.

The range will be the second such facility after the integrated test range at Chandipur-on-sea, about 15 km from Balasore off the Orissa coast, which is used for launching missiles, rockets and flight test vehicles.

“The Chitradurga facility will be used for conducting trials of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), surveillance systems, radars and electronic warfare equipment. Being a hilly terrain and a barren land without human habitation, the range will also be used for dropping bombs from UAVs in target areas,” Prahlada said.

The defence lab has been forced to look for a new test range for UAV trials ever since the new Bangalore international airport commenced operations in May at Devanahalli, about 40 km from this tech hub.

“Over the years, we have been using a World War II airstrip at Kolar (about 100 km from Bangalore) for UAV trials. In view of the heavy air traffic from the new civilian airport and the adjacent Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Yelahanka, we have decided to look for an alternative test range that is nearer to Bangalore (the aeronautics cluster of India),” a DRDO official told IANS.

The Chitradurga test range is expected to be commissioned by 2010-11, with full-fledged facilities and equipment to carry out trials of various products designed and developed by DRDO for induction into the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.

“We have zeroed-in on Chitradurga after inspecting about a dozen locations in the state. Being in no-man’s land and 20 km from the district headquarters, the location is ideal and safe for conducting various trials on land and in the air,” the official pointed out.

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