What is DRDO’s Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle?

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Indian hypersonic missile test

In a major technical breakthrough, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has successfully tested an indigenously developed hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle. This test has paved the way for the development of hypersonic cruise missiles and vehicles in the future and has also put India in a selected pool of nations which have demonstrated this technology.

Insights of this blog are:-

India’s Major Breakthrough: What Happened And How?

• Understanding Key Terminologies: HSTDV And Scramjet Engine

• How Fast Is HSTDV?

• What Makes HSTDV A Breakthrough?

• The Helping Hands and The Development of HSTDV

Comments From Key Personalities

The Concluding Note

India’s Major Breakthrough: What Happened And How?

The Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) indigenously developed in India took off at 11:03 a.m. from the Dr. Abdul Kalam launch complex at Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha on 7 September 2020. As the officials at DRDO say, the hypersonic cruise vehicle was launched using a proven, solid rocket motor, which took the hypersonic cruise vehicle to the altitude of 30km where the aerodynamic heat shields separated at supersonic speed. 

Later, the cruise vehicle separated from the launch vehicle and the combustion occurred as planned. The hypersonic combustion sustained and the cruise vehicle continued on its desirable path at a velocity of 6 times the speed of sound, which is nearly 2 km/s for more than 20 seconds.

Understanding Key Terminologies: HSTDV And Scramjet Engine

What is HSTDV?

  • Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is not a weapon in itself, rather it is developed as a carrier vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles.
  • Developed by India’s DRDO, it is an unmanned Scramjet aircraft for hypersonic speed flight. The HSTDV cruise vehicle is mounted on a rocket motor which takes it to a required height, after which the cruise vehicle is ejected out of the launch vehicle and the Scramjet engine ignites automatically.

What is the Scramjet Engine?

The Scramjet Engine is an improvement over the Ramjet Engine as the former operates efficiently at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. This is in contrast, to the Ramjet Engine which operates well at supersonic speeds but it’s efficiency drops at hypersonic speeds.

How Fast Is HSTDV?

  • HSTDV can travel at a speed of Mach 6, which means that it can travel at a speed of 6 times the speed of sound and can ride up to an altitude of 32.5 km in just 20 seconds.
  • Standing on its expectations, the HSTDV achieved an altitude of over 30,000 ft. in 22 seconds, when DRDO tested it with the help of Agni Missile Boosters on September 7, 2020.

What Makes HSTDV A Breakthrough?

The Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) launched by DRDO has enhanced the capabilities of India and took it to a whole new level. Well… there are plenty of reasons that make HSTDV a breakthrough.

  • Its speed and manoeuvrability will help hypersonic missiles penetrate through the defense system without even being noticed.
  • It will also help the nation compress the timelines of response, in case of an attack.
  • In addition to the military applications, the HSTDV can be also used for civilian applications which include the launching of several small satellites at low cost.
  • Another factor, which makes HSTDV a breakthrough is that it has placed India in the selected group of countries that possess Hypersonic Technology. 

The Helping Hands And The Development Of HSTDV

  • The actual work behind HSTDV which launched successfully on September 7, 2020, started long ago. In the year, 2004 the design for the attachment of airframe with the engine was complete and ready, yet much of the work began with the help coming from Israel and Russia.
  • Israel has provided reasonable assistance to the HSTDV program including Wind Tunnel Testing. India’s Defense and industrial partner- also did a lot of research into hypersonic propulsion which actually made the HSTDV program a huge success.
  • Due to denial of technology and material for the Scramjet Engine, a new program was initiated and all the materials for the HSTDV program were developed in India. This helped India in attaining self-sufficiency in the area of manufacturing components for the Scramjet Engine.

Comments From Key Personalities 

As the news about the success of HSTDV came and made rounds into the market on Tuesday, a day later than the actual launch, key personalities from across the country also shared their views and welcomed the news.

G. Satheesh Reddy, DRDO chairman said in an interview that this is a major technical breakthrough in the country. He also elaborated that the test will pave the way for the development of more critical technologies, materials and hypersonic vehicles. Lastly, he commented happily that this research had put India in a selected club of nations to demonstrate this technology.

India’s Defense Minister, Rajnath Singh took to Twitter to express his views. He said, “ With this success, all critical technologies are now established to progress to the next phase.”

The Concluding Note

Undoubtedly, the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) has given India the much-needed boost and have paved the way for the development of various ground and flight testing hardware, which is actually a part of India’s ambitious plan of the hypersonic cruise missile system. 

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