Hypersonic missile India testing: Flies five times the speed of sound

India tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV) today (January 27) on the island of Kalaam off the coast of Odisha.

Th HSTDV was first tested by the Defense Research and Development Agency in 2019.

An unmanned aerial vehicle built to fly at hypersonic speeds (five times the speed of sound).

In 2008, former DRDO director general V K Saraswat said the goal of the HSTDV project was to demonstrate “the performance of scramjet engines at altitudes of 15 km to 20 km”. Equipped with a scramjet engine, the HSTDV can travel at Mach 6 (7408.8 km/h).

“In this project, we are developing a hypersonic flight vehicle powered by a scramjet engine,” he said at the time.

A scramjet engine (supersonic combustion ramjet) is an engine that can operate at hypersonic speeds.

Like regular ramjet engines, scramjet engines supply fuel to the aircraft, but use the atmosphere as an oxidizer. Second, it uses high speed to forcefully compress the intake air before it enters the combustion chamber.

However, ramjets slow the air down to subsonic speeds (less than the speed of sound) before combustion, whereas the airflow in scramjets is overall supersonic.

So the engine starts only after the vehicle has reached a certain speed. This speed is achieved by other means of propulsion such as rocket engines.

Unlike rocket engines, which carry both fuel and oxidizer, scramjets carry only fuel. Therefore, it can only operate in a suborbital atmosphere where oxygen is present in sufficient quantities.

Utilizing technology validated by the HSTDV test, India could develop hypersonic missiles in the future.

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