Friday, March 21, 2008

DRDO's secret Radar Facility

IANS had an interview with Dr. V.K. Saraswat [1],[2] or [3] about India's Ballistic Missile Defence Program.

India developing ballistic missiles to destroy IRBMs, ICBMs

Visakhapatnam, Jan 7 - By 2010 India will have an indigenous ballistic missile defence system to intercept and destroy intermediate ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), a top defence official said here Monday.

'We are developing a robust anti-missile defence system that will have high-speed interceptions for engaging ballistic missiles in the 5,000 km class and above. We have recently demonstrated the capability to handle such targets up to 2,000 to 2,500 km,' Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief controller V.K. Saraswat told IANS on the sidelines of the 95th Indian Science Congress.
Our BMD is designed to intercept the enemy even at high altitudes and long distances and destroy it before it could enter our region,' Saraswat said.
The advanced BMD is at a design stage and will go on trial in 2009-2010. With all the elements of the system such as the long-range tracking radar, the multi-function fire control radar, the very intelligent and potent mission control centre for deciding the launching of the interceptor, the BMD will be able to detect IRBMs and ICBMs of any country and destroy on target.
The tracking and fire control radars were developed by state-run DRDO in collaboration with Israel and France. With the development and production being taken up concurrently, the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) in Bangalore has been commissioned to roll out more radars for short, medium and long range use in association with the private sector.
'LRDE has a full-fledged facility at Kolar to assemble and calibrate the radars required by the defence forces,' Saraswat said.

This made for interesting reading, especially the reports about the Radar development by LRDE. Dr. Saraswat has confirmed that Israeli and French helped in developing the critical Radars used in the systems. If the missiles are the fists of the BMD system, these radars are the heart, and are probably the most complicated and critical parts.

As it is, the Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR) developed by LRDE is superior to the Israeli Greenpine radar it is based upon, both in terms of Range of detection, as well as the speed of the missile it can detect. The Greenpine can detect targets travelling upto 3 km/s, which limits the Arrow Missile system's interception to Short and Medium range Ballistic missiles. The LRTR can detect upto 6 km/s, which ensures that it can handle even IRBMs, a crucial requirement if we are to be protected against Chinese Missiles as well.

The second interesting bit was the report about LRDE's radar calibration facility in Kolar. This is a new bit of information that wasn't heard before. Being close enough to Bangalore for easy access, while far away from most EMI disturbances, it would be an ideal place to develop and test radars.

I did a bit of searching for this facility on Google Earth, and guess what, found it! Its a sprawling test range located right next to an airfield, which, by the looks of it, was probably abandoned by the Brits or IAF a long time ago. While it did take a while to find the place, with its typical Sarkari style buildings, it sticks out like a sore thumb - something that is a big grouse of mine. If you want a secret facility, at least make sure that it doesn't have a big bulls-eye on it.

Heres a satellite image of the facility. Unfortunately, wasnt able to upload the full size image(4200 x 3400 pixels). If anyone can help with this, please let me know.

Update (March 21): Some more pictures of the same facility.

Same picture, with the boundary walls highlighted, and captioned.

Closeup of the radar site - note the radome. Its diameter is around90 ft.

Appears to be the main working area. Note the warehouse size structures and the shipping containers.

Buildings to the right of the ones in the picture above.


Anonymous said...

Nice effort Sniperz11. If could find something more do let us know.


sniperz11 said...

Thanks Neo...

This site is also used by ADE and CABS for testing their Flycatcher Radars and UAVs, although, judging by the color of the buildings and how new they look, most of the facilities here were probably built only when LRDE took control of the range.

The airfield is from World War 2 vintage, and you can make out as much from the surface and the state it is in. There is a helipad which does look well maintained.

Apparently, the Dhruv Acrobatic team, Saarang, practice here. Obviously, the empty space and lack of other air traffic, makes it an attractive place. Plus, being only 70 km from Bangalore, it is only about half an hour's flying. Then of course, there is the presence of a DRDO establishment right next door, which means a guest house and added facilities... its paradise.

I'm adding more pictures and closeups of the site.

Chacko Joseph said...

Nice work on getting the google earth photo. It would have been nice if we could have spotted some DRDO equipment there ;)

BTW, the facility has been there for quite sometime, initially started for testing UAV's. That should explain choosing this particular place. Other places like Bellary too has some runways. But this has other factors like much open space, nearness to Bangalore etc.

I suppose you have read this piece
It gives some insights how these ranges are selected by DRDO.

Hope someday, I get to do a piece on this facility too.

Anonymous said...

Whats with putting up so much info on the net? Why not just mention it in the passing rather than giving so much information including pics.

sniperz11 said...

@Anon, All the information here is whats in the public domain. As it is, it wouldn't make a bit of difference putting it all together, since half the Intelligence organizations of the world have already done that.

All the info here is already on the net... All I had to do was put it all together. Anyone with a computer and a internet connection could have got this info. Nothing secret about it. This facility was out of public knowledge, but not any more.

As for the pics, they're from Google Earth. And more coming up btw.

santy said...

The problem is with collating open source information at one place. If someone wants to get to all that information, let them do their own research. Why make enemy's work easier? JMT. Cheers.

Pritam said...

Sniperz11, good effort, thanks.

Can you say some thing about DRDO's next generation ABM programme AD-01 and AD-02? Last I heard one of them will have capability to go upto 250 above earth to destroy incoming BMs.


sniperz11 said...

Thanks Pritam,

There hasn't been much information about AD-1 and 2, so guesswork isn't the best bet. Even with such news report, its best to reconfirm from other sources... in many cases, such "exclusive info" is just enthusiastic guesswork or excessive extrapolation by an overenthusiastic author.

The reports about AD-1 and AD-2 are:

The only information that is provided is that AD-1 and 2 will enable us to intercept missiles of ranges upto 5000 km.

Now, a 3500 km range missile has a reentry speed of 5 km/s. (source: Obviously, if we need an ABM system to handle threats beyond that range, it will require ABMs with a higher speed (150% of target velocity is what is optimal, according to scientists, and the latest American BMD ABM kill vehicles reach speeds of up to 10 km/s, so its not a stretch to think that we'll aim at reaching such speeds as well).

I'm not sure about the altitude of interception though. 250 km may very well be possible, but its better not to speculate until we have a confirmation from the people involved.

However, the PAD's height ceiling of 90 km seems optimal for such a system. According to the princeton paper from Herbert Lin - see

"This note proposes that any test involving a
target with an altitude in excess of about 70 kilometers or a speed in excess of about
3 kilometers per second at the moment of closest approach between a weapon and a
target should be considered either a "test in an ABM mode"...."

This appears to be the approx. ceiling that PAD is kept within, seeing as it will target Tactical BMs (which within US definition, refer to missiles of less than 3500 km).

The missile defense system that is comparable to the proposed AD-1 is the American SM-3 (which destroyed the satellite recently), which can target IRBMs upto 5000 km range. This missile has a kill ceiling of 250 km, which could very well be the ceiling for the AD-2, and indicate that your point is correct. However, lets not count chickens yet.

What will be needed on our future ABMs will be making the missiles much more compact. Right now, the PAD is still an extremely bulky system, compared to the nimble SM-3, which is only 6.5 m long and a foot wide, compared to the PAD, which is double its size. That will be the challenge facing us on the AD project.

Anonymous said...

link on google maps....,78.13&ie=UTF8&ll=13.195754,78.173888&spn=0.002345,0.005493&t=k&z=18

Mani said...

Hi Sniperz11,

Good work! There is also a facility in Gubbi Taluk, Tumkur district. North of the main road connecting Tumkur and Gubbi helical antennas in the ground, and an underground facility. Can you spot that? And any info on that?

Harshith Tn said...

I have spotted ABM system trucks coming out of the facility last year... also there was visits by APJ sir two years 4-5years back