Chitradurga can now boast of the country’s first centre to test unmanned aircraft. Called the Challakere Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) is first of its kind in India and was inaugurated by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

Situated 200 km from Bengaluru, Challakere in Chitradurga was chosen as the place to conduct the most important defence tests. This centre is the result of hard work of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Challakere ATR is situated on a 4,290-acre plot bought by the Ministry of Defence from the state government for Rs12 crore in 2008. Investment of Rs 1,300 crore has been made towards the project.

This centre got partially activated on December 15 in 2010 and was formally inaugurated on May 28 by the Defence Minister.

There is a 2.2 km runway, six-storeyed range control centre, two UAV stands, a radar centre and a rail link. The centre will also have a technical unit connected to DRDO, a cafeteria, medical centre. The centre will conduct trials of unmanned aerial vehicles, air-to-ground weapons, parachutes and aerostats. In addition, a DRDO Township will come up at 200-acre space.

Even the scientists currently working at the Aero Cluster laboratory in Bengaluru are likely to be shifted to Challakere. The Centre has already spent Rs 330 crore on the basic infrastructure at Challakere and has made use of 10,000-acre space.