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). 
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. The critical events like fuel injection and auto ignition of scramjet demonstrated technological maturity. The scramjet engine performed in a text book manner
  6. The parameters of launch and cruise vehicle, including the scramjet engine, were monitored by multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and Telemetry Stations. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  1. It has been developed by DRDO.
  2. The cruise vehicle is expected to be mounted on a solid rocket motor, which will take it to the altitude that is required.
  3. Once the required altitude has been reached, and the Mach too, this cruise vehicle is expected to be ejected out of the launch vehicle.
  4. This is a dual-use technology project, and has civilian applications.
  5. It is used for propelling the cruise vehicle at Mach 6, mid-air; The Scramjet engine will be auto-ignited.
  6. It can be used for not only launching long-range cruise missiles, but also for the launch of small satellites at a lower cost.
  7. 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
  8. DRDO has developed this with help from the UK and Israel.
Why is it important?
  1. 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.
  2. The tests carried out have used hydrocarbon fuel. This has been done for the performance, and aerodynamics.
  3. The flight duration of HSTDV is expected to be around 20 seconds and at an altitude of 31 km.
  4. These platforms which will be guarded by the anti-ballistic air defence systems are going to perform precision strikes.
  5. DRDO plans for longer duration flights, and this will lead to the development of re-usable nuclear/conventional weapons delivery platforms.