India on Monday took a giant leap in the development of next-gen hypersonic cruise missiles with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully demonstrating of the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology.
With this, India entered an exclusive club that had only three members - US, Russia and China - before today.
"In a historic mission today, India successfully flight tested Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), a giant leap in indigenous defence technologies and a significant milestone towards a #sashaktbharat and #atmanirbharbharat," DRDO announced on Twitter.
"DRDO with this mission, has demonstrated capabilities for highly complex technology that will serve as the building block for NextGen Hypersonic vehicles in partnership with industry," it said.
Here is all you need to know about the test of scramjet technology:
The speed of sound in air at 20 °C is about 343 metres per second (1,235 km/h), which is referred to as Mach1. Objects moving at speeds greater than Mach1 are said to be travelling at supersonic speeds. Many countries already possess missiles that travel at supersonic speeds.
Objects travelling at a speed higher than Mach 5 are said to be at hypersonic speed. This is a rare technology only a handful of countries possess. This speed is achieved with the help of scramjet (supersonic-combustion ramjet) engine in which the airflow through the engine remains supersonic, or greater than the speed of sound. Scramjet powered vehicles can achieve speeds up to Mach 15.
India on Monday demonstrated this technology. The hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology was demonstrated with the flight test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV). The hypersonic cruise vehicle was launched using a proven solid rocket motor, which took it to an altitude of 30 kilometres (km), where the aerodynamic heat shields were separated at hypersonic Mach number.
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 (Mach 6) i.e., nearly 02 km/second for more than 20 seconds. The critical events like fuel injection and auto ignition of scramjet demonstrated technological maturity. The scramjet engine performed in a text book manner.
The parameters of launch and cruise vehicle, including scramjet engine, was monitored by multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and Telemetry Stations. The scramjet engine worked at high dynamic pressure and at very high temperature. A Ship was also deployed in the Bay of Bengal to monitor the performance during the cruise phase of hypersonic vehicle. All the performance parameters have indicated a resounding success of the mission.
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 characterisation of high temperature materials, separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities etc. were proven.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO on this landmark achievement towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. He also spoke to the scientists associated with the project and congratulated them on this great achievement. India is proud of them, he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated the DRDO for successful flight of the Hypersonic Test Demonstration Vehicle.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, "Congratulations to DRDO for successful flight of the Hypersonic Test Demonstration Vehicle today. The scramjet engine developed by our scientists helped the flight achieve a speed 6 times the speed of sound! Very few countries have such capability today."
Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy congratulated all the Scientists, Researchers and other personnel related with HSTDV mission for their resolute and unwavering efforts towards strengthening Nation’s defence capabilities. On this successful demonstration, the country enters into the hypersonic regime paving way for advanced hypersonic Vehicles.