Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DRDO's Hypersonic Missiles and Maneuvering Re-entry Warheads Take Shape in New Hypersonic Wind Tunnel

Graphic by Siddharth Pandey for IDP Sentinel

DRDO's quest for hypersonic missiles and maneuvering re-entry missile warheads received a boost with the official commissioning of the 0.5-m hypersonic wind tunnel at IISc Bengaluru on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

The wind tunnel is already being used to develop the design of DRDO's HSTDV, a technology demonstrator for the Brahmos-2 hypersonic missile. (Other than their names, nothing else would be common between Brahmos and the hypersonic Brahmos-2.)

As of now, IISc is in the process of fabricating a sub scale model of the HSTDC and developing its nozzle design. The scale mode will be used to ascertain booster panel separation forces at Mach 6.0. (A rocket booster would accelerate the HSTDV to Mach 6 and fall away on burnout.) IISc is expected to be complete development and testing within 8 months.

B Vasudevan, head, Hypersonic Wind Tunnel, at IISc told TOI on April 7, 2014, "We have tested seven of these vehicle models and this will be the eighth."

HSTDV is reported to have achieved M 6.5 in wind tunnel testing so far.

The 0.5-m Hypersonic Wind Tunnel at IISc, Bengaluru is the second largest such facility in the country, with the largest being the ISRO funded hypersonic wind tunnel at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center of ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram.

A DRDO official told the TOI that the tunnel cost about Rs 6 crore and similar facilities abroad have been constructed at costs of over hundreds of crores of rupees.

"This facility will save the country a lot of money as we're charging only about Rs 2 crore for tests which would cost Rs 15 or Rs 20 crore in Russia or some other countries," he said.

The official also claimed that the HSTDV project would be be the equivalent of Nasa's X43.

DRDO's 1-m Hypersonic Windo Tunnel

DRDO is in the process of setting up an additional 1-m hypersonic wind tunnel at the Missile Complex Shamirpet (Badamafi) in Hyderabad at a cost of Rs 300 - 400 crore.

The new hypersonic wind tunnel would facilitate research and development of futuristic hypersonic missiles and re-entry vehicles which requires generation of extensive aerodynamic data.

DRDO has tendered for a contract to build the facility that it wants completed within 48 months of contract signing.

Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Facility consists of three major systems i.e, High Pressure System, Wind Tunnel System and Vacuum System. High pressure system provides dry air at 300 bar and ambient temperature and vacuum system provides the required vacuum for various tunnel operating conditions. Wind Tunnel System provides the required flow conditions to be simulated for testing the models.

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

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

On November 1, 2012, Janes reported that DRDO plans to conduct the first flight trial of the HSTDV in the next 12 to 18 months.

DRDO sources told the website that initial ground tests with the kerosene-fueled scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) had been completed and the propulsion system is now being integrated with the air vehicle.

Roughly 10 engine runs have been completed although the development team has yet to undertake a sustained 20-second burn, which is the operating time required for initial flight trials. DRDO expects to reach the milestone "soon."

IDP Sentinel members can read more about DRDO's HSTDV project at the link below:

Hypersonic Technology Development Vehicle (HSTDV) (IDP Sentinel)

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