India test fires HSTDV
DRDO has successfully demonstrated the Hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology with the flight test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV) on 7 September 2020 from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha. It is expected to power futuristic long-range missile systems and aerial platforms. The HSTDV, based on hypersonic propulsion technologies, has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- With the successful test flight of the HSTDV, India has demonstrated capabilities for highly complex technology that will serve as the building block for next-generation hypersonic vehicles in partnership with the domestic defence industry.
- The HSTDV powers cruise missiles and operate on scramjet engines which can attain the speed of around Mach 6 which is far better than ramjet engines.
- 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.
- The cruise vehicle separated from the launch vehicle and the air intake opened as planned. The hypersonic combustion sustained, and the cruise vehicle continued its desired flight path at a velocity of six times the speed of sound i.e. nearly 2 km/s 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 the scramjet engine, were 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 vehicles. All the performance parameters have indicated a resounding success of the mission.
- Many critical technologies such as aerodynamic configuration for Hypersonic manoeuvres, use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and sustained combustion at hypersonic flow, thermo-structural characterisation of high temperature materials, separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities were used in the successful demonstration of HSTDV.
More about HSTDV
- It has been developed by DRDO.
- The cruise vehicle is expected to be mounted on a solid rocket motor, which will take it to the altitude that is required.
- Once the required altitude has been reached, and the Mach too, this cruise vehicle is expected to be ejected out of the launch vehicle.
- This is a dual-use technology project, and has civilian applications.
- It is used for propelling the cruise vehicle at Mach 6, mid-air; The Scramjet engine will be auto-ignited.
- It can be used for not only launching long-range cruise missiles, but also for the launch of small satellites at a lower cost.
- According to sources the Russian have also played a very important role in this as it has done a lot of work in hypersonic propulsion.
- DRDO has developed this with help from the UK and Israel.
Why is it important?
- These hypersonic engines have been developed as they are going to propel launch vehicles and it will be at a velocity that is not achievable from turbine powered jet engines.
- The tests carried out have used hydrocarbon fuel. This has been done for the performance, and aerodynamics.
- The flight duration of HSTDV is expected to be around 20 seconds and at an altitude of 31 km.
- These platforms which will be guarded by the anti-ballistic air defence systems are going to perform precision strikes.
- DRDO plans for longer duration flights, and this will lead to the development of re-usable nuclear/conventional weapons delivery platforms.