The Defence Minister Arun Jaitley recently inaugurated the newly built Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) at Chitradurga in Karnataka. Addressing a gathering of eminent scientists and other defence personnel on the occasion, the Defence Minister said facilities such as the ATR will help in creating conditions for research, which will in turn develop the type of human resource in the country required in the field of aeronautical testing.
Complimenting the vital role of the DRDO towards self-reliance and promoting ‘Make in India’ efforts, Jaitley said the development of the test range will cater to the needs of DRDO for testing of indigenously developed aeronautical systems. He said the facility would also contribute to the development of the region in which Chitradurga is located.
The ATR is the first of its kind range in the country exclusively meant to conduct flight-tests of indigenous unmanned and manned aircrafts, developed by the DRDO including the naval and trainer versions of the Light Combat Aircraft, the unmanned air vehicles-Rustom-I and Rustom-II (Tapas); the Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems (AEW&C), Air-to-Ground weapons, parachutes and aerostats, etc. This outdoor testing and evaluating facility has been set up by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), one of the premier laboratories of the DRDO.
Spread across 4,029 acres, the 28 km perimeter strategic test range envisages a 2 km runway besides other tracking and control equipment where a rail link to the facility has also been planned. The State-of-the-Art Range Control Centre (RCC) houses the air traffic display system with remote control of radar operations, ATC RF voice communication system, ground telemetry system, mission video distribution and display system and range operational communication system.