Citing the the security threat India faced in the region, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday called for optimal defence preparedness to safeguard the country.
“Our defence preparedness should always be at optimal level to safeguard the country, which is geographically located in a region that is not free from trouble,” said Jaitley as he unveiled the India’s first Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) for testing drones and other weapons in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district.
Noting that India had a hostile neighbour perpetuating a security threat for nearly seven decades, he called upon for greater indigenisation of defence equipment to ensure that preparedness remained at the highest level.
Admitting that India continued to spend more on importing arms, he wondered why the best minds produced here should not make the country self-reliant in defence equipment.
“A large part of the defence budget allocation is spent on procuring arms from outside than making them in the country where the best minds dominate the technology elsewhere in the world,” he said.
“As the ATR and allied facilities help in many areas of national security, the government has been in favour of a policy for creating optimal facilities within the country,” he reiterated.
The Rs 1,300 crore, 4,090 acre dedicated ATR facility will also be used to test and evaluate aeronautical systems as well as air-to-ground weapons and other equipment.
It also has 2.2 km runway along with taxiways in conformity with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard.
“The ATR houses the air traffic display system with remote control of radar operations, an Air Traffic Control radio frequency voice communication system and a range operational communication system,” said a DRDO official at the event.
When fully operational in the near future, the range will be used for testing and evaluating projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and its units such as the Centre for Air Borne Systems, the Gas Turbine Research Establishment, the Defence Avionics Research Establishment and the Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification.