In a path-breaking attempt, India conducted the first test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) from a defence test facility off Odisha coast setting the perfect ground for the development of longrange cruise missiles. Mounted on an Agni series missile, the technology demonstrator vehicle was launched in autonomous mode from the world-class missile complex located at Kalam Island at about 11.25 a.m. on June 12, 2019.
Powered by scramjet engine, it can cruise at fluid dynamics of Mach 6 and has multiple civilian applications, including the launch of satellites at low cost besides long-range cruise missiles. The Defence authorities claimed that the vehicle was launched successfully and India became the second country in the world after the US to have developed the hypersonic technology.
“The maiden launch of the technology demonstrator vehicle has been successful. Data generated during the mission is being analysed. We are trying to achieve what no country has attained. The vehicle will help prove a number of technologies for futuristic missions,” an official told the media. The six-metre long air vehicle with a launch weight of around one tonne features a flattened octagonal cross-section with wings on mid-body and tail fins. The scramjet engine is placed at the midbody while the portion towards the tail serves as exhaust nozzle. In between, there is a rectangular component of about 12-foot for air intake.
The technology was under development for the last decade or so as part of an ambitious plan for the hypersonic cruise missile. Though Indi.an missile arsenal boasts of BrahMos cruise system developed jointly with Russia, it is supersonic in nature and can travel at a speed of Mach 2.8. A long-range missile with hypersonic technology could be a strategic killer. The hydrocarbon-fuelled scramjet engine developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had already completed ground-based tests using moderate size hypersonic wind tunnel and conventional shock tunnel. After a couple of laboratory tests, the initial flight of the vehicle was aimed at validating the aerodynamics and aerothermodynamics of the air vehicle and performance of the scramjet engine along with the audience system. The mission involved the launching of the hypersonic air-breathing cruise vehicle with the help of a rocket at an altitude of 25 km.