DRDOs new test range at Chitradurga
Indias first facility to create and test futuristic unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for the military will come up at Chitradurga, within the next five years, at a cost of approximately Rs 850 crore.
The dedicated facility will produce and fly small UAV, micro-UAV, flapping wing UAV and the long range UAV â€“ the ultimate dream of many defence scientists. The DRDO has received clearances from the state and Central governments for its project, scheduled to be completed during the 11th plan. Karnataka has offered 3,000 acres of barren land in Hiriyur and Challakere taluka in Chitradurga for the test range.
The Chitradurga range is likely to be involved with the development of the first medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, (MALE), scheduled to undergo its flight test in 2009, though sources hinted at a possible delay. DRDO so far has developed two unmanned aerial platforms â€“ Nishant and Lakshya - both entering the production phase.
While Nishant can fly continuously for four to six hours, day or night, photographing enemy territory, Lakshya is an aerial target meant for gun and missile shooting. The organisation is now working on Lakshya-2. A DRDO official said that the longer range version of the UAV could fly up to 300-900 km at a speed between 0.4 to 0.7 Mach. In comparison, Nishantâ€™s maximum range is 160 km.
Though research and development of individual components for the UAV are expected to take place in defence laboratories including Bangaloreâ€™s Aeronautical Development Establishment as well as centres in Pune and Dehradun, the final assembling and testing may happen in Chitradurga. Chitradurgaâ€™s proximity to Bangalore was one of the determining factors in favour of the site as ADE scientists are required to visit the spot regularly.