DRDO’s Hypersonic Flight Test Fails to Achieve Desired Parameters

The maiden test of the indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle off the Odisha coast has reportedly failed to achieve the desired results

Yunus Dar

India on June 12 attempted to test its first indigenously-developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) from a base off the Odisha coast. According to a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) statement, the Technology Demonstrator Vehicle was launched to prove a number of critical technologies for futuristic missions.

However, the reports suggest the test failed to achieve the desired results. The lack of any statement from the premier defence agency about the result of the test bolstered the reports that the test was a failure.

DRDO’s Hypersonic Flight Test Fails to Achieve Desired Parameters

The Times of India reported the HSTDV – designed to cruise at Mach 6 speed with the scramjet engine – was supposed to “fire and fly on its own” after being carried to an altitude of around 30-40 km by the solid rocket motor of an Agni-I ballistic missile in the test. “But the Agni-I booster went into an uncontrolled mode after the launch and could not achieve the desired altitude…So, the entire test flopped,” the paper quoted a source in the defence ministry as saying.

DRDO downplayed the media reports saying the test was meant for ‘experimenting critical technologies for future programmes.’ The agency said it had collected the data and was cross checking and verifying it for future assessments.

The defence agency didn’t issue the complete information saying, “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.” The statement doesn’t give a concrete direction as to whether the desired results were achieved.

However, the experts opine that the HSTDV mission was not intended to achieve hypersonic flight, the test was mainly carried to validate key technologies essential for hypersonic flight. The technologies used for the test included the modified Agni-1 missile to launch the technology demonstrator vehicle and boost its velocity – the guidance systems, and heat shields for protection during re-entry.

DRDO has, however, been confident of achieving the hypersonic flight and expects to succeed in a couple of years. Once successful, the achievement will place the nation in the select group of countries having developed such technology.


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