India takes first step towards developing hypersonic missiles | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

India takes first step towards developing hypersonic missiles

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRahul Singh | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
Sep 07, 2020 07:09 PM IST

Only the United States, Russia and China have developed technologies to field fast-maneuvering hypersonic missiles that fly at lower altitudes and are extremely hard to track and intercept.

India on Monday took the first steps towards developing a new class of ultra-modern weapons that can travel six times faster than the speed of sound (Mach 6) and penetrate any missile defence, with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) carrying out a successful flight test of the hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) for the first time from a launch facility off the Odisha coast, the government said in a statement.

An improvement over the ramjet technology, the scramjet engine operates efficiently at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5.(DRDO.)
An improvement over the ramjet technology, the scramjet engine operates efficiently at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5.(DRDO.)

Only the United States, Russia and China have developed technologies to field fast-maneuvering hypersonic missiles that fly at lower altitudes and are extremely hard to track and intercept.

Unlock exclusive access to the latest news on India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now! Download Now!

India could develop hypersonic cruise missiles powered by air-breathing scramjet engines in about four years, a top government officer said on the condition of anonymity. Mach 6 translates into a speed of 7,408 kmph.

IN PICS:| DRDO successfully test fires hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle

“The DRDO has successfully demonstrated the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology with the flight test of HSTDV at 1103 hours from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam launch complex at Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha on Monday,” the defence ministry statement said.

An improvement over the ramjet technology, the scramjet engine operates efficiently at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5.

The hypersonic cruise vehicle was launched using a proven solid rocket motor that took it to an altitude of 30 km where the aerodynamic heat shields were separated at a hypersonic Mach number, the statement said.

“The cruise vehicle separated from the launch vehicle and the air intake opened as planned. The hypersonic combustion sustained and the cruise vehicle continued on its desired flight path at a velocity of six times the speed of sound or nearly 2 km/second for more than 20 seconds,” the statement said. The first test of the HSTDV in June 2019 failed to meet mission parameters.

Developing hypersonic missiles will require the cruise vehicle to travel at speeds above Mach 6 for a few 100 seconds for the weapon to strike its target, said a second official, requesting anonymity.

“Critical events like fuel injection and auto ignition of scramjet demonstrated technological maturity. The scramjet engine performed in a text book manner,” the statement said.

The parameters of launch and cruise vehicle, including the scramjet engine, were monitored by multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and telemetry stations, with the engine working efficiently at high dynamic pressure and very high temperature, it added.

A warship was deployed in the Bay of Bengal to monitor the performance during the cruise phase of hypersonic vehicle. All the performance parameters indicated a “resounding success” of the mission, the statement said.

“This marks a technological breakthrough for the country. The successful mission will enable us to develop many more critical technologies and pave the way for hypersonic vehicle development,” DRDO chief G Satheesh Reddy told Hindustan Times.

The flight test has proven a raft of critical technologies including aerodynamic configuration for hypersonic maneuvers, use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and sustained combustion at hypersonic flow, thermo-structural characterisation of high temperature materials and separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities, the defence ministry said.

With hypersonic vehicles being the key to defeating missile defences, the successful flight of the technology demonstrator vehicle is an important milestone, said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.

“This has been some time in the making and the challenge now is to make a time-bound transition to the prototype testing phase. China is quite ahead in hypersonics and India cannot afford to lag behind,” Bahadur said.

The dual-use hypersonic technology has non-military applications too --- it can be used for launching satellites and developing commercial planes, experts said.

Defence minister Rajnath, who spoke with scientists associated with the critical project, congratulated the DRDO on the “landmark achievement” towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

“The DRDO has today successfully flight tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle using the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system. With this success, all critical technologies are now established to progress to the next phase,” defence minister Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter.

Reddy congratulated the scientists, researchers and other personnel associated with the mission for their “resolute and unwavering efforts” towards strengthening the country’s defence capabilities.

Why is the successful flight test of the hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) significant?

It paves the way for India to develop hypersonic weapons that can travel six times faster than the speed of sound (Mach 6). The weapon will be integrated into the hypersonic vehicle.

Which other countries have developed hypersonic technology?

Only the US, Russia and China have developed technologies to field hypersonic weapons that fly at lower altitudes and are extremely hard to track and intercept. India could develop hypersonic missiles in four years.

What will the development of hypersonic missiles entail?

In Monday’s test, the cruise vehicle continued on its flight path at Mach 6 speeds or nearly 2 km/second for more than 20 seconds. The next challenge for India will be ensure the cruise vehicle can travel at those speeds for a few 100 seconds for the weapon to strike its target.

What are the main challenges for hypersonic flights?

Extremely high temperatures and aerodynamic forces make hypersonic flights tricky. The successful flight test proved several critical technologies including aerodynamic configuration for hypersonic maneuvers, use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and separation mechanism at speeds in excess of Mach 6.

Why are hypersonic vehicles powered by scramjet engines?

An improvement over the ramjet technology, the scramjet engine operates efficiently at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Ramjet engines are efficient at supersonic speeds of around Mach 3 but their performance drops when the vehicle hits hypersonic speeds.

Explore India's rich political history with the Archives section on our exclusive Elections Product. Access all election content absolutely free, only on the HT App. Download now!

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Lok sabha election 2024 voting live , Karnataka election 2024 live in Bengaluru , Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, May 08, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On