Home / News / India /  India joins elite league of nations to possess hypersonic missile tech

India on Monday conducted a successful test flight of the indigenously developed hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV), joining the elite club of the US, Russia and China who possess such technology.

The HSDTV has a range of uses, including missiles for air defence, surveillance and reconnaissance, besides aiding the development of energy-efficient, low-cost and reusable satellite launch vehicles.

Monday’s test also comes at a time when ties between India and China are frayed due to intrusions by Chinese troops into Indian territory.

The success of Monday’s flight test of the HSTDV was confirmed by India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). “The @DRDO_India has today successfully flight tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle using the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system. With this success, all critical technologies are now established to progress to the next phase," Singh said in the first of two posts on Twitter.

“I congratulate to DRDO on this landmark achievement towards realising PM’s vision of atmanirbhar Bharat," he said referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “self reliant" India campaign that aims to transform Asia’s third largest economy into a manufacturing hub. “I spoke to the scientists associated with the project and congratulated them on this great achievement. India is proud of them," Singh said.

In its statement, the DRDO described the achievement as “historic."

“DRDO with this mission has demonstrated capabilities for (developing and delivering) highly complex technology that will serve as the building block for next-gen hypersonic vehicles in partnership with industry," it said.

India first tested the HSTDV last year in June. Monday’s test was also conducted from the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.

The statement said the hypersonic cruise vehicle was launched using a previously tested solid rocket motor, which propelled it to an altitude of 30 km where the aerodynamic heat shields separated at hypersonic speeds.

“The cruise vehicle separated from the launch vehicle and the air intake (channel) opened as planned. The hypersonic combustion (was) sustained and the cruise vehicle continued on its desired flight path at a velocity of six times the speed of sound i.e. nearly 2 km/s for more than 20s. 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 statement said.

What gives a hypersonic missile its potency is its speed, said Rajeshwari Rajagopalan, an expert on space and nuclear technology at the New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation. “This test today puts India in an elite club of nations definitely, but India will have to perfect the technology with many more tests," said Rajagopalan.

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