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India conducts flight test of unmanned Scramjet Aircraft; becomes 2nd country to do so

In a path-breaking attempt, India on Wednesday conducted first test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HTDV) from a defence test facility off Odisha coast setting the perfect ground for development of long range cruise missiles.

Mounted on an Agni series missile, defence sources said, the technology demonstrator vehicle was launched in autonomous mode from the world class missile complex located at Kalam Island at about 11.25 am.

Thrusted by scramjet engine it can cruise at Mach 6 and have multiple civilian applications, including launch of satellites at low cost besides long range cruise missiles.


Defence authorities claimed that the vehicle was launched successfully and India became the second country in the world after the US to have developed the hypersonic technology.

“The maiden launch of the technology demonstrator vehicle has been successful. Data generated during the mission are being analysed. We are trying to achieve what no country has attained. The vehicle will help prove a number of technologies for futuristic missions,” an official confirmed ‘The New Indian Express’ over phone from New Delhi.

The six meter long air vehicle with a launch weight of around one tonne features a flattened octagonal cross section with wings on mid-body and tail fins. The scramjet engine is placed at the mid-body while the portion towards the tail serves as exhaust nozzle. In between there is a rectangular component of about 12-foot for air intake.

The technology was under development for the last over a decade as part of an ambitious plan for hypersonic cruise missile. Though Indian missile arsenal boasts BrahMos cruise system developed jointly with Russia, it is supersonic in nature and can travel at a speed of Mach 2.8. A long range missile with hypersonic technology could be a strategic killer.

The hydrocarbon fuelled scramjet engine developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had already completed ground-based tests using moderate size hypersonic wind tunnel and conventional shock tunnel.

After a couple of laboratory tests, the initial flight of the vehicle was aimed at validating the aerodynamics and aero-thermodynamics of the air vehicle and performance of the scramjet engine along with the auidance system. The mission involved launching of the hypersonic air-breathing cruise vehicle with the help of a rocket at an altitude of 25 km.

While Chairman of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) G Satheesh Reddy monitored pre-mission activities, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra reportedly witnessed the test.

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