DRDO test fires Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle on cloud

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India on Wednesday conducted a successful first flight test of the indigenously-developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) from a base off the Odisha coast, catapulting the country into an elite club of nations that possess the technology. The other countries that have this technology are Russia, US and China.

India’s HSTDV was test-fired by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at 11.27 am, a statement from the defence ministry said.

The aim of the mission was to “prove a number of critical technologies for futuristic missions," the statement said.

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet (allowing supersonic combustion) demonstration aircraft that can cruise upto a speed of mach 6 (or six times the speed of sound) and rise up to an altitude of 32.5 km (20 miles) in 20 seconds.

What gives the hypersonic missile its potency is the speed at which it travels, said Rajeshwari Rajagopalan, an expert on space and nuclear issues at the New Delhi based Observer Research Foundation think tank. Countries like Russia and China have perfected this technology which makes it key for India to acquire it, she said. “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 said.

The HSTDV cruise vehicle is mounted on a solid rocket motor, which will take it to a required altitude, and once it attains certain mach numbers for speed, the cruise vehicle will be ejected out of the launch vehicle, PTI report said. The scramjet engine gets ignited automatically later. Besides its utility for long-range cruise missiles of the future, the dual-use technology will have multiple civilian applications too. For instance, it can be used for launching satellites, PTI quoting unnamed officials said.

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