An Indian hypersonic weapon technology demonstrator was flight tested for the first time today by the country’s Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), though it is understood that the test was not completed successfully. In the works for since the turn of the millenium, the vehicle was tested this morning off India’s east coast. The DRDO issued a short statement confirming the test:
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Today launched a Technology Demonstrator Vehicle to prove a number of critical technologies for futuristic missions from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha. The missile was successfully launched at 1127 Hours. Various radars, telemetry stations and electro optical tracking sensors tracked the vehicle through its course. The data has been collected and will be analysed to validate the critical technologies. — DRDO STATEMENT
The statement, typically vague, doesn’t mention the status of the test, leading to speculation over whether it successfully met all test points, or whether it was aborted. Top sources have told Livefist that the Agni-I ballistic carrier vehicle on which the HSTDV was to receive its altitude boost, didn’t complete the mission, therefore likely precluding the flight of the hypersonic demonstrator itself. The DRDO and MoD haven’t responded to questions about the status of the demonstrator vehicle.
The statement also doesn’t reveal what speeds were being aimed to be achieved even though official data (see below) on the project mentions speeds of between 2-8 Mach, a wide margin. That being said, the test today is a small first step but an important one in what has been a long-standing propulsion project — one that the DRDO has kept necessarily under wraps and believes will be a gamechanger. The purpose has been to develop and then flight-prove a fully indigenous scramjet engine using kerosene fuel (the DRDO also recently tested a solid fuel ducted ramjet system). The long term vision is for the hypersonic propulsion technologies to fuel platforms for extended air defence, global targeting and surveillance/reconnaissance. In 2010, right around the time images first emerged of the HSTDV’s wind tunnel model, Livefistalso accessed official literature on the program, providing the first formal schematics and data on the vehicle:
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