Challakere to become a ‘well-oiled’ and fully operational ATR and an advance Military base of Indiaq

Oil and military matters have nothing in common. A sign board on the National Highway at Challakere says: Welcome to the Oil City (because of the numerous edible oil mills around the town). Another board points towards Voru Kaval village, the new home for Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) at Challakere taluk in Chitradurga district of Karnataka.

On May 28, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley will inaugurate the ATR, being set up on the 4,290 acres of land provided by the Karnataka government. Following the completion of the first phase work, the range will be extensively used for testing and evaluating unmanned and manned projects of the DRDO.

The DRDO has already positioned two of its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) — Rustom-1 and Rustom-2 TAPAS (Tactical Advanced Platform for Aerial Surveillance) — at the ATR. Once the range becomes fully operational, the DRDO will test air-to-ground weapons, parachutes, aerostats and electric warfare flares. Officials say no test flights of ballistic missiles and commercial airline operations will be conducted at the range, sticking with the guidelines given by the National Green Tribunal.

The current runway at the ATR is 2.2 km and it will be extended by another km in the next phase. This would mean that the DRDO would have trials of its Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems (AEW&C) platform, which is already inducted into the Indian Air Force.

A state-of-the-art Range Control Centre (RCC) has a series of air traffic display systems capable of remote control of radar operations. It has an ATC radio frequency voice communication system, ground telemetry system, mission video distribution and display system and range operational communication system.

The Radar Centre houses the primary and secondary surveillance radars. The ATR is protected by the 8-ft compound periphery wall spread across 20 km with a watch tower at every 2 km. In the coming days, the DRDO plans to have some smart fencing being installed inside the ATR, taking security measures to heightened levels.

The DRDO had activated the range in 2010, just two years after the land was allotted to the defence body. Notwithstanding the ongoing work at the range, a safe drop zone was created for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas to undertake air-to-ground weapon and drop tank jettison trials. Tejas had dropped practice bombs for the first time at the ATR in December 2010.

In the years to come, Tejas MK-2, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) Ghatak will also find the ATR a suitable home to carry out the trials. With the extension of runway, it is for sure that many fighter jets in future will fly over Challakere to make the best use of the ATR.

The LCA will be the biggest winner with most of its future trials likely to be shifted to the ATR, giving the much-needed relief to the HAL airport in Bengaluru. More hangars are expected to be set up under various wings of the DRDO to undertake dedicated tests of futuristic projects.

Villagers need jobs ::

Most of the villagers around Challakere are hopeful that the DRDO will provide them jobs. While many local people are engaged in the construction work of the ATR, they are looking for permanent jobs.

They say there are many educated youngsters who hold diploma degree in electrical and electronics and that the DRDO must employ them once ATR is operational. But the DRDO might find this demand a bit tricky, considering its centralised recruitment policy.

While many villagers had earlier protested against the project while joining sides with environmental groups, the DRDO says all matters have been addressed as per the law of the land now. They say all the procedural clearances and the NGT nod are in for the ATR.

Military-industry complex: Ahead of its inauguration on Sunday, the DRDO flew Rustom-1 from ATR to Mandya and back in two hours recently, testing some of the parameters set by the user. With Rustom-2 capable of flying non-stop for 24 hours undertaking various surveillance missions, it is just a matter of time before the DRDO puts the ATR to its full use.

Rustom-2 will also probably fly in front of an invited gathering for the first time on Sunday, soon after the ATR becomes officially operational.

With the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Space Research Organisation too setting up their facilities, Ch­allakere’s story is sure to spread. An official at ATR said Challakere will be the future military-industrial complex of India.

With more agencies likely to join the activities, it is a matter of time before Challakere becomes a ‘well-oiled’ and fully operational military base.






Source:- Deccan Herald

The post Challakere to become a ‘well-oiled’ and fully operational ATR and an advance Military base of Indiaq appeared first on Indian Defence Update.

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