DRDO successfully flight-tests hypersonic tech demonstrator vehicle

DRDO successfully flight-tests hypersonic tech demonstrator vehicle
Photo credit: DRDO

Bengaluru: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said on Monday said that it had successfully flight tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) using the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system.

With the success of this hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology, the DRDO said that it had established all critical technologies need to progress to the next phase.

“It is a giant leap in indigenous defence technologies and significant milestone towards a ‘Sashakt Bharat and Atmanir Bharat. DRDO has now demonstrated capabilities for highly complex technology that will serve as the building block for next generation hypersonic vehicles in partnership with industry,” a DRDO spokesperson said.

Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy congratulated the scientists, researchers and other personnel related with HSTDV mission for their resolute and unwavering efforts towards strengthening nation’s defence capabilities.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted saying he spoke with the scientists associated with the project and congratulated them on this great achievement.

“India is proud of them,” he tweeted.

Today’s test was held from A P J Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.

“The test was held around 11 am and it lasted for a few minutes,” an official said.

DRDO said 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 Mach number.

Launch Highlights

•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 i.e. nearly 2 km/s for more than 20s.

•The critical events like fuel injection and auto ignition of scramjet demonstrated technological maturity.

The scramjet engine performed in a text book manner. It worked at high dynamic pressure and at very high temperature.

•The parameters of launch and cruise vehicle, including 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 hypersonic vehicle.

•Many 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 etc.

Challenging Mission

The HSTDV was conceptualized for an autonomous flight of a scramjet-integrated hypersonic air-breathing vehicle for about 20 seconds.

Scientists at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad, part of India’s Missile Complex has been working on HSTDV for the last 15 years.

With today’s mission, India joins a select few nations who have conducted autonomous flight of the hypersonic air-breathing vehicles, with United States, Russia and China already leading ahead.

Speaking to Onmanorama, DRDO Chairman Dr Reddy said: “It is a major technological breakthrough which paves the way for many critical technology developments and realizing hypersonic vehicles.”

National Aerospace Laboratories, a premier lab under CSIR in Bengaluru, too contributed to the HSTDV project developing a high temperature component that could withstand up to 3000°C temperature.

For the last several years, DRDL scientists have been developing high temperature materials for engine, airframe and other structural components.

The first aerodynamic wind-tunnel test for this mission was held in Israel in 2007 and two years later again in Russia (2009) as India then lacked hypersonic facility to test larger cross-section of platforms.

DRDO also set up new facilities under the command of Missile Complex in Hyderabad to undertake advanced tests of futuristic missions, including HSTDV.

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