India tests hypersonic demonstrator vehicle launched from Agni I platform
The aircraft forms an important component of the country's ambitious programme for development of a hypersonic cruise missile system.
The vehicle was test launched using the Agni 1 missile platform that was to take it up to a predetermined altitude where scramjet technology—the ability to fly at speeds in excess of Mach 6 while using atmospheric oxygen as oxidizer—had to be validated with separation of the platform and a short flight at high altitude.
Sources said that while the missile on which the platform was mounted successfully took off from the range, the test could not be completed to demonstrate the vehicle at hypersonic speed as the Agni 1 did not reach the desired altitude for the test. Scientists are looking at the technical reasons behind this and are studying all available data.
“The missile was successfully launched at 1127 Hours. Various radars, telemetry stations and electro optical tracking sensors tracked the vehicle through its course. The data has been collected and will be analysed to validate the critical technologies,” an official DRDO statement read.
It is learnt that further tests will be required to validate the HSTDV that was to demonstrate a short duration flight. Given the complexity of the mission – India will join only a handful of nations after it demonstrates the vehicle – extensive work is required to meet all objectives.
The Agni 1 is a nuclear capable missile that is in service with the strategic forces and has been successfully tested several times in the past. Its failure to reach the desired altitude is a reason for concern and is being studied.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was present at Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha for the test.