With the number of missile tests escalating in the country and the Integrated Test Range off the coast of Odisha constantly inundated with missile tests, India plans to create two new missile testing ranges along the eastern coast. Besides the two ranges along the East Coast, the DRDO is also planning to establish a Floating Test Range including radars and launch facilities on a ship.
With various missions planned in the near future for the Armed Forces, multiple facilities are being envisaged to accommodate the execution of short-range and long-range missions along the east coast. According to state-run DRDO, which carries out the missile tests with the Armed Forces, there is a dire need to expand the area and increase the capabilities of the testing range geographically.
The upcoming facilities will cater to short and long range missile tests and will have a launch control centre, a few launch pads, a blockhouse and state-of-the-art communication network, besides permanent monitoring stations such as telemetry and electro-optical tracking. Currently, the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Balasore district of Odisha is the only facility that caters to missile tests.
The new facilities will be deemed as an ‘Interim Test Range’ and will graduate into an ‘Integrated Test Range’ in a period of 2-3 years, according to sources. The idea is to facilitate DRDO missile scientists and experts with a nationwide range. Following this, the performance of a missile over long distances can be easily tracked during a mission.
Besides the two full-fledged Testing Ranges, DRDO aims to create a Floating Test Range which would include radars and launch facilities on a ship. The Floating Test Range will enable DRDO to maintain safety during the mission and will be used for missile tests relating to air Defence, etc.
On the other hand, state-run DRDO has partially activated the country’s second test near Chitradurga, about 200 km from Bangalore in Karnataka. However, this facility will only be able to conduct the trials of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), surveillance systems, radars and electronic warfare equipment. The air-to-ground range at Chitradurga has already been activated. The range has also witnessed the bomb dropping trails from LCA Tejas.
According to DRDO top brass, Chitradurga in Karnataka offers viable environment for carrying out trails and tests as it is a barren land without human habitation. The range will also be used for dropping bombs from UAVs in target areas. This test range of DRDO is on 4,000 acres of land in Chitradurga. However, the total infrastructure and other logistic facilities are yet to be completed.