With a military standoff between India and China intensifying, the Indian military has decided to increase geopolitical instabilities in the region, on Monday, as it test-fired a new class of ultra-modern weapons that can travel at hypersonic speeds.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), an agency under the Indian Ministry of Defence, tasked with weapon development, released a statement Monday announcing it “successfully flight tested” a domestic hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) for the first-time.
Defense minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO for the “successful” launch of the HSTDV, describing the advanced engine technology as a scramjet propulsion system. Singh said the vehicle hit speeds in excess of Mach 6 (4,600 mph).
“The cruise vehicle separated from the launch vehicle and the air intake opened as planned. The hypersonic combustion sustained and the cruise vehicle continued on its desired flight path at a velocity of six times the speed of sound or nearly 2 km/second for more than 20 seconds,” the DRDO statement read. India’s first test of the HSTDV ended in failure in June 2019.
“This has been some time in the making and the challenge now is to make a time-bound transition to the prototype testing phase. China is quite ahead in hypersonics and India cannot afford to lag behind,” Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retired), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies, said.
The timing of the launch comes as India and China are locked in a monthslong military standoff along the Line of Actual Control, a 2,175 mile disputed border between both countries, that stretches from the Ladakh region in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim.
In the event of an unintentional war along the heavily disputed border, and China already developing hypersonic weapons and deploying stealth fighter jets, India is now playing catch up as it must modernize it forces as a hot conflict may be inevitable.