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The Scramjet engine, which delivered HSTDV to Mach 6 on Monday – six times the speed of sound – is an improvement over the Ramjet engine. It operates efficiently at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. In contrast, ramjets work well at supersonic speeds around Mach 3, but their efficiency falls at hypersonic speeds.
While this is a significant achievement for DRDO, which has been talking about technology since the early 2000s, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) tested its Scramjet engine in early 2016.
Its military significance is that the scramjet engine, which has dual-use (military and civilian), will serve as an important building block for next-generation hypersonic cruise missiles, designed to fly at speeds greater than five times. Will be done. Voice of.
When designed for testing and subsequent use, hypersonic missiles will greatly enhance India’s arsenal, placing it alongside some countries that have such weapons.
In addition to velocities of more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), the maneuver capability of hypersonic missiles makes them very effective offensive weapons capable of defeating the enemy. Missile Defense and Tracking System.
The power of a hypersonic missile is the speed at which it travels, making it an invaluable reaction time for both defense and offense.
But India is still far behind countries like America, China and Russia. China flew a DF-17 missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle in its national military parade last year.
India is working on making BrahMos – supersonic Cruise missile – Hypersonic, and Scramjet will also help with that effort. Developed jointly with Russia, BrahMos now flies at Mach 2.8 speed.
Low cost sat launch
Furthermore, on the civilian side, HSTDV can propel satellites at a lower cost. However, its ability to do so would be restricted. Experts believe that such vehicles, using a scramjet, can only push satellites into LEO (low-Earth orbit), as air-breathing engines will not get oxygen at high altitudes.
According to ISRO, currently, satellites are launched by multi-staged satellite launch vehicles, which can be used only once (spendable). These launch vehicles generate oxidizer thrust for fuel as well as combustion. Launch vehicles designed for one-time use are expensive and their efficiency is low because they can carry only 2–4% of their lifting mass into orbit.
About 70% of the propellants (fuel-oxidizer combination) carried by today’s launch vehicles are oxidizers. Therefore, next-generation launch vehicles must use a propulsion system that can use atmospheric oxygen through the atmosphere during their flight which will reduce the total propellant required to orbit the satellite.
Furthermore, if those vehicles are made reusable, the cost of launching satellites will be significantly reduced. Thus, the future reusable launch vehicle concept as well as air-breathing propulsion is an exciting candidate that provides regular access to space at low cost.
A hypersonic vehicle / missile also has the capability to enhance India’s anti-satellite (A-Sat) capabilities. On March 27, 2019, the country successfully tested the ‘A-Sat missile’ in an operation called ‘Mission Shakti’, making it only the fourth country after the US, China and Russia to have demonstrated such capability.
The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters. A-SAT not only adds to India’s strategic strength of protecting space assets, but is also a game changer that will add capabilities in handling high-altitude incoming missiles.
India already has a long BMD program with several missiles in its arsenal. But as of today those missiles cannot intercept a target that is at such altitude. Experts believe that A-SAT can help our forces deliver incoming missiles to greater heights, which serves as a major benefit.
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