Defence Current Affairs 2017

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Fact Box: Newly Built Aeronautical Test Range at Chitradurga in Karnataka

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has inaugurated the newly built Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) at Chitradurga in Karnataka.

Salient Highlights

Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) is the first of its kind range that has been set up by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), one of the premier laboratories of the DRDO. ADE works on a range of UAVs (unmanned air vehicles).

The facility will be an integrated test centre for a cluster of DRDO’s aeronautical laboratories. The following labs will make use of the testing facility: the Centre for Air Borne Systems, the Gas Turbine Research Establishment, the Defence Avionics Research Establishment, the Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification, all of which are based in Bengaluru, and finally the Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment, which is based in Agra.

The facility is meant to conduct flight-tests of indigenous unmanned and manned aircrafts such as 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.


The 28 km strategic ATR is expected to facilitate conditions for research, which is expected to enrich the human resource required in the field of aeronautical testing. The test range envisages a two kilometer runway besides other tracking and control equipment.

The longer runway situated in the ATR will enable the developer labs to test bigger aircrafts such as the AEW&CS (Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems) aircraft meant for surveillance and intelligence gathering from sensitive areas. The DRDO’s AEW&CS will include much larger Airbus platforms in the future.


The newly built ATR has been up and running for a few months. In November 2016, DRDO carried out its first successful flight of the UAV ‘Tapas’ 201, earlier called Rustom-2 in the ATR facility. Recently, in May 21, 2017, ADE had carried out the test flight of Tapas  for a duration of 6 minutes. Tapas is a MALE or medium altitude, long endurance UAV that can sustain for 24 hours monitoring over a 200 km area.


Second Prototype of Light Utility Helicopter Completes Maiden Flight

The second prototype of the Light Utility Helicopter, LUH PT2, has successfully completed its first flight by flying smoothly for 22 minutes in Bengaluru. The second prototype is the improved version of the PT1, which undertook its first flight on September 6, 2016 and later in the Aero India 2017 show in February.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is developing the three-tonne-class LUH as a reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft for military and civili users.  HAL is expected to finalize the helicopter’s design by the this year end. After getting necessary certificates the HAL will manufacture the aircraft and its components in its facility coming up in Tumakuru. The aircraft is being manufactured by the HAL as a part of its Make in India campaign in rotary and fixed wing aircraft.

Light Utility Helicopter

LUH is being designed to fly 350 km non stop at a speed of 220 kmph. The aircraft is capable of reaching a maximum height of 6.5 Km and can carry a payload of 400 kg. The engine of LUH is capable of delivering 750 KW of power and will permit flight operations at an altitude as high as 6,500 metres (21, 325 feet) and thus permitting the aircraft to fly to India’s highest posts in Siachen Glacier Sector.

The light utility helicopter (LUH) will replace the obsolescent fleet of Chetak and Cheetah helicopters that have been in use for more than three decades. Apart from military use, LUH is also being developed to capture a sizeable share in both domestic and international market.

HAL’s helicopter division has already designed two successful indigenous programmes- the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). 



Air Marshal PN Pradhan Appointed as Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff

Air Marshal PN Pradhan has been appointed as the Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Operations).


Integrated Defence Staff was created in 2001 following the recommendation of GoM which was set up after the Kargil war to review India’s defence management. IDS was established to ensure a high degree of synergy between the Armed forces. IDS works towards integration of policies, war fighting and procurement by employing best management practices. The IDS comprises of Service Officers, Civilian Officers and Scientists who perform roles and functions allocated to them based on responsibilities of Integrated Defence Staff.

PN Pradhan

PN Pradhan was commissioned as a pilot in Indian Air Force in 1981. Pradhan has held four command tenures and various key positions like Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Transport and Helicopters) and Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Personal Airmen & Civilians) at Air Headquarters and served as the Senior Air Staff Officer of Southern Air Command. Pradhan was associated with the induction and operationalisation of Embraer-135, BBJ and C-130 fleets into the Indian Airforce. In recognition of his distinguished service, he was awarded with Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2014.