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India joins US, Russia, China hypersonic Missile club

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India joins US, Russia, China hypersonic Missile club:


India has become the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to develop and successfully test hypersonic technology.


India recently tested the Hypersonic Test Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV).

Developed by?

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).


Significance and implications of this test flight:

This indigenous technology will pave the way towards development of missiles travelling at six times the speed of sound (Mach 6).

What is Hypersonic Test Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV)?

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight.

How it works?

The HSTDV cruise vehicle is mounted on a solid rocket motor, which will take it to a required altitude, and once it attains certain mach numbers for speed, the cruise vehicle will be ejected out of the launch vehicle. Subsequently, the scramjet engine will be ignited automatically.

Where can it be used?

  • It has utility for long-range cruise missiles of the future.
  • It can be used for launching satellites at low cost too.

What are cruise missiles? How are they different from ballistic missiles?

A cruise missile either locates its target or has a preset target. It navigates using a guidance system — such as inertial or beyond visual range satellite GPS guidance — and comprises a payload and aircraft propulsion system.

  • Cruise missiles can be launched from land, sea or air for land attacks and anti-shipping purposes, and can travel at subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic speeds.
  • Since they stay relatively close to the surface of the earth, they cannot be detected easily by anti-missile systems, and are designed to carry large payloads with high precision.

Ballistic missiles, meanwhile, are launched directly into the upper layers of the earth’s atmosphere.

  • They travel outside the atmosphere, where the warhead detaches from the missile and falls towards a predetermined target.
  • They are rocket-propelled self-guided weapons systems which can carry conventional or nuclear munitions. They can be launched from aircraft, ships and submarines, and land.

What are ICBMs?

Intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs are guided missiles which can deliver nuclear and other payloads.

ICBMs have a minimum range of 5,500 km, with maximum ranges varying from 7,000 to 16,000 km.

  • Only a handful of countries, including Russia, United States, China, France, India and North Korea, have ICBM capabilities.


Prelims Link:

  1. Who developed HSTDV?
  2. Which countries have successfully tested hypersonic technology so far?
  3. What is a scramjet?
  4. What are ICBMs? How many countries possess ICBMs?
  5. What are cruise missiles?
  6. What are ballistic missiles?

Mains Link:

What successful testing of the Hypersonic Test Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) mean for India? Discuss.

Sources: pib.