India joins hypersonic club with successful test flight of cruise vehicle
- Defence ministry says demonstration vehicle with scramjet engine reached an altitude of 30km and six times the speed of sound
- It comes amid growing concerns over a new arms race in hypersonic weapons between China, Russia and the United States
India has become the fourth country to successfully flight test hypersonic technology, joining an elite club alongside the US, Russia and China with the ability to develop missiles that can travel several times faster than the speed of sound.
The Indian defence ministry announced it had conducted the historic flight test of a demonstration vehicle on Monday from an island off Odisha, an eastern coastal state in India. In a statement, the ministry said its hypersonic cruise vehicle with an indigenously developed scramjet engine had reached an altitude of 30km (98,425ft) and travelled at six times the speed of sound.
“All the performance parameters have indicated a resounding success of the mission,” the statement said. “On this successful demonstration, the country enters into the hypersonic regime, paving the way for advanced hypersonic vehicles.”
The ministry also released a 24-second video of the launch on its website.
Indian media on Monday cited sources saying that India’s latest hypersonic test meant that the country would have the capacity to develop a hypersonic missile in the next five years, and that the technology could also be used to launch satellites at a lower cost.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to social media on Monday evening to celebrate the successful hypersonic test.
“The scramjet engine developed by our scientists helped the flight achieve a speed six times the speed of sound!” he tweeted. “Very few countries have such capability today.”