Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle


ILA Berlin 2012 PD 018.JPG
HSTDV model displayed at the ILA Berlin Air Show ILA 2012
Role Robotic flight demonstrator
Designer Defence Research and Development Organisation
First flight 12 June 2019
Status Testing
Primary user Indian Armed Forces

The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight. It is being developed as a carrier vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles, and will have multiple civilian applications including the launching of small satellites at low cost. The HSTDV program is being run by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).[1][2][3]


India is pushing ahead with the development of ground and flight test hardware as part of an ambitious plan for a hypersonic cruise missile.[4]

The Defense Research and Development Laboratory's Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is intended to attain autonomous scramjet flight for 20 seconds, using a solid rocket launch booster. The research will also inform India's interest in reusable launch vehicles. The eventual target is to reach Mach 6 at an altitude of 32.5 km (20 miles).[2][5]

Initial flight testing is aimed at validating the aerodynamics of the air vehicle, as well as its thermal properties and scramjet engine performance. A mock-up of the HSTDV was shown at the Aero India exhibition in Bengaluru in February (see photo), and S. Panneerselvam, the DRDL's project director, says engineers aim to begin flight testing a full-scale air-breathing model powered by a 1,300-lb.-thrust scramjet engine in near future.[6]

Design and development

A render of HSTDV cruise vehicle.

The design for airframe attachment with the engine was completed in the year 2004.[7]

In May 2008, Dr. Saraswat said:

The HSTDV project, through which we want to demonstrate the performance of a scram-jet engine at an altitude of 15 km to 20 km, is on. Under this project, we are developing a hypersonic vehicle that will be 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.[1]

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. According to a report, Russia has provided critical help in the project. India's main defense-industrial partner is Russia, which has carried out considerable research into hypersonic propulsion.

The 1-metric-ton, 5.6-meter (18-ft.)-long air vehicle under construction features a flattened octagonal cross section with mid-body stub-wings and raked tail fins and a 3.7-meter rectangular section air intake. The scramjet engine is located under the mid-body, with the aftbody serving as part of the exhaust nozzle. Development work on the engine is also in progress.

Two parallel fences in the forebody are meant to reduce spillage and increase thrust. Part span flaps are provided at the trailing edge of the wings for roll control. A deflectable nozzle cowl at the combustor end can deflect up to 25° to ensure satisfactory performance during power-off and power-on phases.

Surfaces of the airframe's bottom, wings and tail are made of titanium alloy, while aluminum alloy comprises the top surface. The inner surface of the double-wall engine is niobium alloy and the outer surface is nimonic alloy.

Due to technology denial of material for the scramjet engine, a new program was initiated and the materials were developed in-house. This led to self-sufficiency in the area and the scramjet engine was ground tested successfully for 20s instead of the initial 3s.[when?]

In the 12 June 2019 test, the cruise vehicle was mounted on an Agni-I solid rocket motor to take it to the required altitude. After the required altitude was reached and the Mach was achieved, the cruise vehicle was ejected out of the launch vehicle.[8] Mid-air the Scramjet engine was auto-ignited, and propelled the cruise vehicle at Mach 6.[9] DRDO spent $30 million during design and development phase while $4.5 million was spent on HSTDV prototype development.[10]


Wind tunnel testing

A 1:16 scale model of the vehicle was tested at a hypersonic wind tunnel operated by Israel Aerospace Industries. The isolated intake has been tested at a trisonic wind tunnel at India's National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) in Bangalore. During the lab testing the scramjet engine was tested twice for 20s. A total of five to six tests are required before the test flight. The test flight was expected to take place by the end of 2010.[11]

In November 2010, DRDO officials told press that they were in the process of opening four state-of-the-art facilities inside as well as in the vicinity of Hyderabad at a cost of more than 10 billion (US$133 million) over the next five years. Reportedly, they will invest 3 to 4 billion (US$66 to 88 million) for setting up a much-needed hypersonic wind tunnel at Hyderabad's Missile Complex.[12] The advanced Hypersonic Wind Tunnel (HWT) test facility was finally commissioned at Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Missile Complex on 20 December 2020.[13]

The facility facilitate testing of various parameters of the Hypersonic Technology Development Vehicle (HSTDV), including engine performance.[12]

"It is pivotal to test the [HSTDV] in the range of up to Mach 12. This will be a unique installation in India," Saraswat told AW&ST on 22 November 2010.[12]

As of December 2011, the scientists had proved technologies for aerodynamics, aero-thermodynamics, engine and hot structures through design and ground testing. "Ahead of the launch, we will have to now focus on the mechanical and electrical integration, control and guidance system along with their packaging, checkout system, HILS (hardware in loop simulation) and launch readiness," sources said.[14]

Flight testing

In 2016, it was announced that the vehicle will be tested by December 2016.[15] In early 2019, the vehicle was cleared for tests and was expected to be tested in same year.

On 12 June 2019, it was tested from Abdul Kalam Island by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. With the scramjet engine, it can cruise at Mach 6. It was test-fired from launch pad number-4 of Integrated Test Range (ITR) at the Abdul Kalam Island in the Balasore district of Odisha at 11:27 IST.[16][17] According to some unconfirmed reports, the test was a partial success since, allegedly, the Agni-I ballistic carrier vehicle on which the HSTDV was to receive its altitude boost didn't complete the mission. This was supposedly due to ‘weight issues’.[18][8] The rumours however, were unconfirmed. According to the official statement by the Ministry of Defence, “the missile was successfully launched” and the data collected will be analysed to “validate critical technologies”.[19]

Scramjet testing

HSTDV cruise vehicle mounted atop a solid booster stage before launch on 7 September 2020 at Launch Complex-IV (LC-IV) located in Abdul Kalam Island.

On 7 September 2020 DRDO successfully tested the scramjet powered Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV). Cruise vehicle was launched at 11:03 IST from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island atop a solid booster. At 30 km altitude payload fairing separated, followed by separation of HSTDV cruise vehicle, air-intake opening, fuel injection and auto-ignition. After sustaining hypersonic combustion for 20 seconds, cruise vehicle achieved velocity of nearly 2 km per second.[20] This test flight validated aerodynamic configuration of vehicle, ignition and sustained combustion of scramjet engine at hypersonic flow, separation mechanisms and characterised thermo-structural materials. The HSTDV is set to serve as the building block for next-generation hypersonic cruise missiles.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b T. S. Subramanian (9 May 2008). "DRDO developing hypersonic missile". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b "India successfully test fires hypersonic cruise missile". livemint.com. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  3. ^ Philip, Snehesh Alex (12 June 2019). "DRDO test-fires futuristic missile tech, but its success is in doubt". ThePrint. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  4. ^ "DRDO starts work on 'next-gen' hypersonic weapon". Hindustan Times. 20 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  5. ^ Philip, Snehesh Alex (12 June 2019). "DRDO test-fires futuristic missile tech, but its success is in doubt". ThePrint. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  6. ^ "DRDO developing hypersonic missile". The Hindu. 9 May 2008. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  7. ^ Projects, Center for Aerospace research, Anna University
  8. ^ a b "DRDO test-fires futuristic missile tech, but its success is in doubt". The Print. 12 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Big Success! DRDO tests its future technology for the hypersonic cruise missile". Financial Express. 12 June 2019.
  10. ^ Martin, Mike Yeo, Nigel Pittaway, Usman Ansari, Vivek Raghuvanshi and Chris (15 March 2021). "Hypersonic and directed-energy weapons: Who has them, and who's winning the race in the Asia-Pacific?". Defense News. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  11. ^ "US still denying us technology". Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  12. ^ a b c "DRDO Establishing Four New Facilities". November 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Hypersonic Wind Tunnel test facility inaugurated at DRDO". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 20 December 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 18 March 2021.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ "India's Hypersonic Test vehicle". December 2011. Archived from the original on 15 January 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  15. ^ "YouTube". 14 February 2017. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  16. ^ "India test fires Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle". Business Standard. 12 June 2019.
  17. ^ "India successfully conducts flight test of unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft". The Times of India. 12 June 2019.
  18. ^ Pubby, Manu (18 June 2019). "Hypersonic vehicle programme to be back on track soon". The Economic Times. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  19. ^ "India gets success in scramjet demonstrator aircraft test". India Today. 12 June 2019.
  20. ^ "DRDO successfully flight tests Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle". pib.gov.in. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  21. ^ "India successfully tests hypersonic technology demonstrator with scramjet engine". Rajat pandit. Retrieved 7 September 2020.

External links

  • Hypersonic Flight and Ground Testing Activities in India
  • Media related to DRDO Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle at Wikimedia Commons