- An Indian hypersonic weapon technology demonstrator was flight tested for the first time today by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).
- India conducted a first test flight of the indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV).
- Once it is achieved successfully, India will join another select club of countries having such technology that are the US, Russia and China.
- A scramjet engine means a supersonic Combustion Ramjet (Scramjet) engine.
- A conventional rocket carries both liquid Hydrogen as fuel and liquid Oxygen for combustion. On the other hand, a scramjet engine carries only liquid Hydrogen as fuel and uses Oxygen from atmosphere for combustion to produce thrust.
- Since the rocket fitted with scramjet engine does not have to carry Oxygen as oxidiser, it is lighter and can carry an extra payload equal to the weight of Oxygen.
- Scramjet engines work most efficiently at supersonic speeds between Mach 3 and Mach 6.
- The Hyporsonic Scramjets fly at speeds in excess of Mach 6.
Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV):
- HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight.
- The aircraft forms an important component of the country’s ambitious programme for development of a hypersonic cruise missile system.
- It is a dual-use technology which will have multiple civilian applications as well.
- It can also be used for launching satellites at low cost.
- India conducted the maiden launch of a new hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) that will have futuristic applications for next generation missiles and aerial systems.
Flight test goals:
- The vehicle in this test was conceptualised to demonstrate the indigenous Scramjet technology for a short duration.
- The vehicle was test launched using the Agni 1 missile platform that was to take it up to a predetermined altitude.
- At the pretermined altitude, the scramjet technology had to be validated with separation of the platform and a short flight at high altitude.
- The missile on which the platform was mounted successfully took off from the range.
- However, it is learnt that the test could not be completed to demonstrate the vehicle at hypersonic speed as the Agni 1 did not reach the desired altitude for the test.
- Despite not being fully successful, the test is a small first step but an important one in the long-standing propulsion project.
- An advanced technology aeronautical test of this kind even achieving flight-worthy status is a major achievement.
- Further tests will be required to validate the HSTDV that was to demonstrate a short duration flight.
- The long term vision is for the hypersonic propulsion technologies to fuel platforms for extended air defence, global targeting and surveillance/reconnaissance.