India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning to set up the country's first dedicated facility for testing unmanned air vehicle (UAV) technologies near Chitradurga in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
Chitradurga lies close to Bangalore - home to a large number of defence and aerospace establishments - which weighed heavily in the DRDO's decision to set up the facility there. It is expected to cost Rp8.5 billion ($216 million) and become operational in the next five years.
It is envisaged that the centre will be used to test small, micro, flapping-wing and long-range UAV designs. Significantly, the Chitradurga range is expected to be involved in the development of India's first medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV. The DRDO has to date developed two UAVs - Nishant and Lakshya - both of which have entered production. Lakshya, an aerial target system, is being used for DRDO missile tests.
The Nishant, meanwhile, can fly continuously for up to six hours and photograph potential targets, including at night. The DRDO is developing an improved version of the Lakshya.