Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight. It is being developed as a carrier vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles, and will have multiple civilian applications including the launching of small satellites at low cost. The HSTDV program is run by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation. India is pushing ahead with the development of ground and flight test hardware as part of an ambitious plan for a hypersonic cruise missile.

The Defense Research and Development Laboratory’s Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is intended to attain autonomous scramjet flight for 20 seconds, using a solid rocket launch booster. The research will also inform India’s interest in reusable launch vehicles. The eventual target is to reach Mach 6 at an altitude of 32.5 km (20 miles).

India is pushing ahead with the development of ground and flight test hardware as part of an ambitious plan for a hypersonic cruise missile.
The Defense Research and Development Laboratory’s Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is intended to attain autonomous scramjet flight for 20 seconds, using a solid rocket launch booster. The research will also inform India’s interest in reusable launch vehicles. The eventual target is to reach Mach 6 at an altitude of 32.5 km (20 miles).

Initial flight testing is aimed at validating the aerodynamics of the air vehicle, as well as its thermal properties and scramjet engine performance. A mock-up of the HSTDV was shown at the Aero India exhibition in Bangalore in February (see photo), and S. Panneerselvam, the DRDL’s project director, says engineers aim to begin flight testing a full-scale air-breathing model powered by a 1,300-lb.-thrust scramjet engine in near future.

Future strike:
When when ready for test and subsequent use, the hypersonic missiles will considerably augment India’s arsenal, putting it along a a handful of countries that have such weapons. Besides the velocity of over five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), the manoeuvring capability of hypersonic missiles makes maximum very effective offensive weapons capable of defeating enemy missile defence and tracking systems.A Hypersonic missile’s potency is the speed at which it travels, enabling it to have a quick reaction time considered invaluable for both defence and offence.

India has been working on making BrahMos – a supersonic cruise missile – hypersonic and the scramjet will help in the endeavour too. Developed jointly with Russia, the BrahMos now files at Mach 2.8 speed.

Low cost sat launches
Further, on the civilian side, the HSTDV can total satellites at low cost. However, its ability to do so will be restricted. Experts believe that such a vehicle using scramjet can only push satellites into LEO (LOW EARTH ORBIT), and the air breathing engines will not find oxygen at higher altitudes.

According to ISRO, at present, satellites are launched by multistage satellite launch vehicles that can be used only once (expendable). these launch vehicles carry oxidizer along with the fuel for combustion to produce thrust. large vehicles design for one time use are expensive and their efficiency is low because they can carry only 2-4 % of their lift off mass to orbit.

Nearly 70% of the propellant (fuel oxidizer combination) carried by today’s launch vehicles consists of oxidizers. Therefore, the next generation launch vehicles must use a propulsion system which can utilise the atmospheric oxygen during their flight through the atmosphere which will considerably reduced the total propellant and required to place a satellite in orbit. Also, if those vehicles are made reusable, the cost of launching satellites will further come down significantly. Thus, the future reusable launch vehicle concept along with air breathing propulsion is an exciting candidate offering routine access to space at a far lower cost.

A- Sat Capabilities

A Hypersonic vehicle/missile also has the potential to augment India’s anti satellite (A-Sat) capabilities. The country, on March 27 2019, successful be conducted an A-Sat missile test in an operation codenamed ‘Mission Shakti’, making it only the fourth country after the US China and Russia to demonstrate such a capability.