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