FUTURE STRIKE: India’s Hyper Sonic Vehicle(HSTDV) Update

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight. The HSTDV program is run by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation.

HSTDV Cruise vehicle will be mounted on a solid rocket motor which is covered by fairings will take it to the required altitude and once required altitude and Mach numbers are achieved cruise vehicles will be ejected out of the launch vehicle and later Scramjet engine will be auto-ignited mid-air thus taking over to propel cruise vehicle for next 20 seconds at Mach 6.

This is dual-use technology Project which will have multiple civilian applications. It can be used for launching satellites at low cost. It will also be available for long-range cruise missiles of the future.

Israel has provided some assistance on the HSTDV program, including wind tunnel testing, as has Cranfield University of the U.K. An unnamed third country is helping as well. India’s main defense-industrial partner is Russia, which has carried out considerable research into hypersonic propulsion.

The aim of planned flight test of the project is to demonstrate autonomous flight of Hypersonic scramjet integrated vehicle using hydrocarbon fuel and also measure aerodynamics of the air vehicle, its thermal properties and scramjet engine performance. HSTDV will have a flight duration of 20 seconds at an altitude of 31 km which is also cruising altitude of Boeing 747 but at Mach 6.

Scramjet combustor under development is of 520kg thrust engine which has cleared 4 static test for the 20-second duration at ground test facilities at simulated speed entry condition of Mach 2.25.

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Performance evaluation testing of scramjet combustor was carried out on the last leg off ground-based trials last year in June which was declared successful and scramjet combustor engine was cleared for the first flight.

HSTDV’s hydrocarbon fuel in 20 seconds flight will be in the gaseous stage but in future long-duration flight, it will be in a liquid state. HSTDV in its 20-second flight will be travelling roughly for 31 km before plunging into the ocean. DRDO plans to conduct further longer duration flight which could ultimately lead to the development of re-usable nuclear/conventional weapons delivery platforms to perform precision strikes at targets guarded by Anti-ballistic layered air defences systems.

HSTDV is a very different vehicle with different set of configurations. HSTDV will fly upto Mach 6.5 whereas BrahMos-2 has lesser RCS nd will fly upto Mach-9 nd beyond. And this new heat-resistant material hasn’t been developed with Russian assistance.

It took us almost 5 years to develop this new material and everything was done at IISc-Bangalore with 100% indigenous in-house research. IISc-Bangalore had signed an MoU with BrahMos Aerospace Ltd in 2011, under which the Indians were supposed to make the thermal heat-resistant material nd guidance systems whereas the Russians were supposed to design the propulsion system of the missile.

The Russians will now develop the propulsion system of BrahMos-2. Being a defence journalist, I stumbled upon this project while doing a story on hypersonic missile propulsion in early 2016. At that time the material was still in development nd a team of 20 scientists nd engineers were working on it. I was requested by the IISc researchers nd scientists to maintain silence on it citing secrecy nd national security reasons.

But now this material has been fully developed nd is ready for wind-tunnel testing. That’s today’s update. And it is just a mere coincidence that the Russians have parallel hypersonic missile propulsion projects which r seeing the light of the day simultaneously. And yes, now coming again to DRDO’s HSTDV..the first 2 prototypes are already ready for flight testing since last year. The govt is reluctant to give the go ahead for the maiden test flight of HSTDV as it may have geopolitical ramifications. It may be test flown after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) decides on it.

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A hypersonic missile with a scramjet engine at Mach 20 plus is so indefensible .And it has tremendous range extension utility. For instance an Agni-5 with a hypersonic last stage will extend its range well beyond intercontinental distances.

Pentagon has described hypersonic flight ‘the new stealth’ for its promise of evading and outrunning the enemy fire. The effort to develop hypersonic engines is necessary because they can propel vehicles at a velocity that cannot be achieved from traditional turbine-powered jet engines.




Reference:- Wikipedia, Tarmak007, Indian Defence Review

Credits to Mr. Amartya Sinha For giving Update about HSTDV materials