India Goes Hypersonic

India’s vision is to enter the hypersonic missile era with a number of ongoing projects.

Anything that goes beyond Mach 5 speed is termed hypersonic. A projectile at such speed is difficult to target and track due to its speed, manoeuvrability, and low altitude of flight.

Hypersonic weapons are primarily of 3 types.

  1. Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV): is a type of warhead for ballistic missiles that can manoeuvre and glide at hypersonic speed.

E.g. DRDO HSTDV mounted on the solid booster of a ballistic missile.

  1. Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM): missile uses an air-breathing scramjet engine, which is much more advanced than ramjet engines that can handle supersonic airflow to achieve hypersonic speed.

E.g. Scramjet engine development by ISRO

  1. The terminal phase of ballistic missile: speeds up to Mach 25 or beyond can be achieved when the missile enters the third phase and final stage of re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.

For E.g. DRDO Agni 5 ICBM in the terminal stage can go beyond Mach 24 as reported

India operates approximately 12 hypersonic wind tunnels and is capable of testing speeds up to Mach 13.


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