India joins elite club with desi hypersonic missile test feat
4th country after US, Russia, China; tech to help launch missiles at 6 times speed of sound
India has joined the elite club of nations after it successfully test-fired indigenously developed hypersonic technology demonstration vehicle (HSTDV) on Monday.
India can now develop hypersonic missiles travelling six times the speed of sound. The US, Russia, and China have such capability so far.
The HSTDV, based on hypersonic propulsion technologies and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), will help India develop futuristic space assets like long-range missile systems and aerial platforms, officials said here after the successful test. Incidentally, an earlier test last year did not yield the desired results.
“It’s a major technological breakthrough in the country. This testing paves the way for the development of more critical technologies, materials and hypersonic vehicles. This puts India in a selected club of nations who have demonstrated this technology,” said DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy.
“With this success, all critical technologies are now established to progress to the next phase,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter while congratulating the scientists for this achievement.
Terming the test as a “landmark achievement,” Rajnath said this realises the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat.’
The HSTDV took off at 11:03am on Monday from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam launch complex at Wheeler Island off Odisha coast. The hypersonic cruise vehicle was launched using a proven solid rocket motor, which took it to an altitude of 30 km, where the aerodynamic heat shields were separated at hypersonic speed, DRDO officials 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 which is nearly 2 km/s for more than 20 seconds, they said.
With this technology, cruise missiles can now travel at hypersonic speeds, officials said adding scramjet engine is a major breakthrough. Air goes inside the engine at supersonic speed and comes out at hypersonic speeds, thereby giving the missile the required momentum and speed.
The vehicle reaches a certain altitude and then cruises and it also reaches very high temperatures, up to 1000-2000 degrees Celsius, during re-entry. Explaining critical events like fuel injection and auto ignition of scramjet demonstrated technological maturity, they said the scramjet engine performed “in a textbook manner. It worked at high dynamic pressure and at very high temperature.”
“DRDO with this mission has demonstrated capabilities for highly complex technology that will serve as the building block for next-generation hypersonic vehicles in partnership with the industry,” they said.
The parameters of launch and cruise vehicle, including the scramjet engine was monitored by multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and telemetry stations. A ship was also deployed in the Bay of Bengal to monitor the performance during the cruise phase of the hypersonic vehicle.
With this successful demonstration, many critical technologies such as aerodynamic configuration for hypersonic manoeuvers, use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and sustained combustion at hypersonic flow, thermo-structural characterization of high-temperature materials, separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities were also validated.
Tuesday, 08 September 2020 | PNS | New Delhi