Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully demonstrated the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology with the flight test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV) from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.
India has become the fourth country in the world to test hypersonic technology vehicle after US, Russia and China.
What is Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle?
- Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is an unmanned scramjet vehicle with a capability to travel at six times the speed of sound.
- The scramjets are a variant of a category of jet engines called the air breathing engines. The ability of engines to handle airflows of speeds in multiples of speed of sound, gives it a capability of operating at those speeds.
- Hypersonic speeds are those which are five times or more than the speed of sound. The unit tested by the DRDO can achieve upto six times the speed of sound or Mach 6, which is well over 7000 kilometres per hour or around two kilometres per second.
About ‘ramjet’, ’scramjet’ and ‘dual mode ramjet’ engines
- A ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that uses the vehicle’s forward motion to compress incoming air for combustion without a rotating compressor. Fuel is injected in the combustion chamber where it mixes with the hot compressed air and ignites.
- A ramjet-powered vehicle requires an assisted take-off like a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.
- Ramjets work most efficiently at supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) and can operate up to speeds of Mach 6. However, the ramjet efficiency starts to drop when the vehicle reaches hypersonic speeds.
- A scramjet engine is an improvement over the ramjet engine as it efficiently operates at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Thus it is known as Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, or Scramjet.
- A dual mode ramjet (DMRJ) is a type of jet engine where a ramjet transforms into scramjet over Mach 4-8 range, which means it can efficiently operate both in subsonic and supersonic combustor modes.