Bangalore: With electronic warfare systems becoming an essential component of modern warfare, India is all set to set up two test ranges for radar-based electronic warfare (EW) systems. The test ranges will come up at Chitradurga in Karnataka and at Tandur in Andhra Pradesh.
According to top Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official Prahlada, while the Chitradurga range would test "non-communication" systems, the one at Tandur would test "communication" EW systems.
The EW test range at Chitradurga would be part of an existing 4,000-acre aeronautical test range, while the one at Tandur would be developed as an 8,000-acre facility. The Tandur facility is situated some 135 km from Hyderabad.
Currently, the country tests such systems in a limited way at the IAF range in Gwalior.
Both the facilities are expected to become operational in 2012-13, according to Prahlada, chief controller, R&D (Ae&SI), DRDO. He was speaking at the India National Electronic Warfare Workshop (EWWI-2010).
Prahlada also said that both the ranges would involve investments of Rs200 crore each.
"Electronic Warfare is becoming a very important area because... You may have all weapons but if somebody jams you (the weapons), you are as good as useless. Before firing the missile, you are already decimated," he said.
"Without electronic warfare, you cannot win a war. Once you have it (EW capability), you have to test it, you can't wait for a war to test it," Prahlada said.
He also mentioned that current EW systems have been integrated with MiG-27 fighters and operational flights are slated next year. These systems would be integrated with MiG-29 fighters and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft next year.
Accoridng to Prahlada, India would fly a fourth-generation EW system sometime in 2012. This advanced sytem was being developed by two DRDO laboratories - the Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DERL).
He also mentioned that flight-tests of a long-range surface-to-air missile, jointly developed by India and Israel, would commence next year, with ground-tests having just been completed.
Prahlada also expressed "big relief" at the US decision to take the DRDO completely off the US entities list. He said this allowed US industries to conduct business with India, allowing to source raw materials, software packages, testing equipment, components and manufacturing process machinery.
The decision also allowed DRDO to source equipment and systems from countries such as the UK and Germany, which earlier hesitated to release items as they respected the US sanctions being aligned with the US.
Prahlada also said DRDO was expecting a budget of Rs9,000 crore in 2011-12 in the area of strategic systems and tactical defence.