Why DRDO’s Successful Test of Hypersonic Tech’s a Big Leap Forward

With the successful test, India enters an exclusive hypersonic club consisting of the US, Russia, and China. 

2 min read
India on Monday successfully tested the indigenously-developed hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV).

Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday, 7 September, successfully tested the indigenously-developed hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV). This technology is crucial for India’s several future defence projects. The HSTDV test was conducted from the Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast at 11:03 am to demonstrate the autonomous flight of a scramjet integrated vehicle.

Here is why this successful test has a big significance for the future of India’s rocket technology.


What is HSTDV?

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet. It is a technology demonstrator of India’s hypersonic speed flight capabilities. Hypersonic flight means it can cruise at a speed of six times the speed of sound ie Mach 6, and rise up to an altitude of 32.5 km in 20 seconds.

A model of the HSTDV .
A model of the HSTDV .
(Photo Courtesy: DRDO)

How Does It Work?

The HSTDV cruise vehicle is mounted on a solid rocket motor, which takes it to a required altitude. Once it attains certain speed, the cruise vehicle will be ejected out of the launch vehicle. After that, the scramjet engine is ignited automatically and proceeds towards its target.

What is the Use of This Technology?

This technology demonstrator developed by the DRDO is used as a carrier vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles. Apart from military use, it has civilian uses as well. According to DRDO, apart from long-range missiles, this technology can be used to launch small satellites at low cost. According to DRDO, with the successful testing of the technology demonstrator, India will be able to make its first hypersonic missile in the next five years.

What is a Hypersonic Missile?

Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds faster than ballistic and cruise missiles that are in service. They can carry conventional or nuclear payloads and can be used to intercept incoming missiles in the outer or the inner atmosphere. Hypersonic weapons are designed for increased survivability against modern ballistic missile defence systems and they are highly manoeuvrable as well.


How Many Countries Possess This Technology?

With the successful test on Monday, India enters an exclusive hypersonic club consisting of the United States, Russia and China. While India is in the initial stages of the testing, the other three countries have had these technologies for a while. They have already developed manoeuvrable hypersonic systems, with speeds of over Mach 5. This enables them to defeat the enemy’s anti-air defence missiles.

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