HSTDV: New Avtar of Air-breathing Technology Helps India To Be ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’

09-09-2020 12:14:29
By : Aditya Venkatesh

The farther and faster you want to go, the bigger your rocket needs to be built, that was the very simple science till recently. But why is it like that? The answer lies that Rockets combine a liquid fuel with liquid oxygen to create thrust. Take away the need for liquid oxygen and your spacecraft can be smaller or carry more payload.

Avtar of new air breathing technology simply changes the dynamics of speed, scale, and maneuverability. Third most important question about this scramjet technology is how fast it can travel? Researchers predict scramjet speeds could reach 15 times the speed of sound. An 18-hour trip to San Francisco from New Delhi City becomes a 2-hour flight. That is the Power of this Scramjet that can drastically change the future outcome of military operation as well as civilian use.

Why DRDO's successful test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle brings huge significance keeping in view that India indeed needed this in times of global uncertainty and especially China's hawkish approach towards India. The DF-ZF Hypersonic missile of the Republic of China, however, it’s assisted by USA poses a severe security threat to India. However, it is to be reminded that India has already been working in this area to make Brahmos II, which has scramjet technology that can trigger Mach 5, 7 and 9 speed and make hostile nation's defense capabilities almost impossible to track this rank of missile with suchscramjet variance.Brahmos II is a joint venture with Russia, basically based on Hypersonic technology fueled by scramjet power, is on the way and India will have this capability till 2024. However, the DRDO launched this technology demonstrator vehicle last year to prove a number of critical technologies for futuristic missions from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha, but such a technology requires many embedded system, and  some of the test were inconclusive during the maiden test last year, however, it was saved for 8th August 2020 where it achieved the mission successfully.

India successful test-firing of Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), puts it into the elite club of top four nations which has the only capability to launch such precise &sophisticated system like HSTDV. India is the only fourth country in the world after the US, China, and Russia to develop and test the technology that will pave the way for next generation Hypersonic cruise missiles that will travel at Mach 6 plus speed. This technology was developed for both the purposes, civilian as well militaries. This test shows India’s capabilities in such a complicated science and takes it towards “Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self-Reliant India”.

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for Hypersonic speed flight. The role of a scramjet engine in such a test becomes supreme as it takes the missile technology to a new altitude. India’s BrahmosI is built upon the technology of ramjet which has Mach 2 plus speed capability and that gives Brahmos I the tag of first supersonic operational missile of the world and it’s tough for the hostile nation to track and hit the missile with their anti-missile defense. Now with the HSTDV technology, India has achieved the invincible attack capabilities, which takes India's missile strength to newer high.

India has now achieved both capabilities in the missile technology, ramjet, and scramjet. Both technologies are types of experimental engine designed for speeds greater than that of sound, in the Hypersonic realm. They are jet engines with no moving parts, relying on the enormous pressures created by supersonic airflow into the engine to ignite fuel without needing the compressors and turbines used in the turbofan engines found on conventional jet planes. In a ramjet, the combustion chamber – where the air is mixed with fuel and ignited – only works at subsonic speeds. So, the intake slows the air down, releasing some of its energy as a shock wave, but this reduces fuel efficiency. The scramjet is an innovation on the ramjet in which the combustion chamber is specially designed to operate with supersonic airflow. Scramjet is simply an acronym for ‘supersonic combustion’ ramjet.

Under this project, Hypersonic vehicle will be developed powered by a scram-jet engine. This is dual-use technology, which when developed, 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 like BrahmosII which is under development and scheduled to be completed in 2024.

The Significance of the HSTDV technology could be ascertained from the fact that it will give a huge boost to India’s Hypersonic missile capabilities and its development as race for the ultra-high speed missile keeps the momentum up so it is important to understand the power of this “new air breathing Avtar of Hypersonic missile”. Hypersonic missile is specifically designed for increased survivability against modern ballistic missile defense systems. These missiles can deliver conventional or nuclear payloads at ultra-high velocities over long ranges. Hypersonic missiles are delivered in two ways: first ,they can be fired from the last stages of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) or Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) and skip along the top of the atmosphere using specialized jet engines to accelerate to Hypersonic speeds; or secondly, they can be launched independently or released from a bomber—similar to cruise missiles—before accelerating to ultra-high speeds. This takes the hostile nation with an awe to face this unknown monster with lethal speed, power & maneuverability and it is impossible to track it down. India could utilize this capacity in multiple ways, be it enhancing ICBM capability or SLBM capability, making a new generation of hypersonic cruise missile or launching low cost-efficient satellite. India's k-6 submarine missile falls in this category & this successful HSTDV could change the dynamics in the blue water as well.

Hypersonic vehicles typically consist of a Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, or Scramjet propulsion system to enable such high speeds. A Scramjet engine is an engine that uses “air breathing” technology. This means that the engine collects oxygen from the atmosphere as it is traveling and mixes the oxygen with its hydrogen fuel, creating the combustion needed for Hypersonic travel. This is different than a traditional ramjet, which is used on space shuttles and satellite launches.


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