The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on monday tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV), thus proving the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology possible and successful. The testing was conducted at 1103 hours from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.
The HSDTV was launched using a solid rocket motor from an Agni missile which propelled it to an altitude of 30,000 metres where the booster separated and the air intake engaged. The vehicle propelled itself using the scramjet technology to mind boggling speeds of Mach 6 or in simpler terms around 2 kilometers per second for a sustained cruise of almost 20 seconds. The technology was demonstrated flawlessly indicating how far it has come from its initial stages.
The launch and the test vehicle were monitored closely with multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and Telemetry Stations, including the scramjet engine, which achieved massive temperature and high dynamic pressure. A Ship was used as the observation station for the mach 6 cruise of the vehicle. The numbers point to a completely successful test.
The demonstration was able to sufficiently test critical technologies such as aerodynamic configuration for hypersonic manoeuvers, use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and sustained combustion at hypersonic flow, thermo-structural characterisation of high temperature materials, separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities among others which are a breakthrough in technology maturity for India.
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi lauded the demonstration by DRDO by posting a congratulatory message on twitter, “Congratulations to DRDO for successful flight of the Hypersonic Test Demonstration Vehicle today. The scramjet engine developed by our scientists helped the flight achieve a speed 6 times the speed of sound! Very few countries have such capability today.”
“On this successful demonstration, the country enters into the hypersonic regime paving way for advanced hypersonic Vehicles.” Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO stated.
The scramjet technology is an upgrade over the Ramjet technology on which the BrahMos is based on which enable the missile to reach speeds of up to Mach 2.8, with the development of the scramjet, India hopes to upgrade its missile propulsion technology. The HSTDV also has civilian used wherein it can be used to launch small satellites into orbit.
The next phase will be to develop long-range hypersonic cruise missiles, which DRDO scientists say would take around 5-6 years. After a failed launch last year in June, DRDO successfully demonstrated the technology but is yet to achieve sustained flight using scramjet propulsion for longer periods of time, which has been achieved by the US, China and Russia.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh, in turn, said it was a “landmark achievement” towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. It’s now time to progress to the next phase in the development of technologies which were successfully demonstrated using the HSTDV flight test, using the indigenously developed scramjet technology.
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