Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will test the indigenously developed scram jet engine next year, according to DRDO chief V. K. Saraswat.
“We have demonstrated the performance of a scram jet engine operating at Mach six speed (six times the speed of sound),” he said in an interview given to Doordarshan.
Theoretical projections place the top speed of a scramjet between Mach 12 (15,000 kmph) and Mach 24 (29,000 kmph), according to Wikipedia.
The fastest air-breathing aircraft is a SCRAM jet design, the NASA X-43A, which reached Mach 9.8. For comparison, the second fastest air-breathing aircraft, the manned SR-71 Blackbird, has a cruising speed of Mach 3.2.
After the successful launch of Agni-5 Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), India is all set to develop reusable rockets which will combine the technologies of both ballistic and cruise missiles.
On the range of Agni-5 missile, which was successfully test-fired recently off Odisha coast, he said with moderate modifications, “it can be extended to any range which is of our interest.”
On the technological capability available with the agency, he said: “DRDO has built the necessary technologies, production infrastructure and design capability for developing a booster or a sustainer.
“We have the capability to develop a re-entry nose cone which can withstand higher temperature and velocity.”
Reacting to reports that India does not possess sufficient indigenous technology for missile guidance systems, Saraswat said Agni-5 has used a completely indigenous and high precision missile guidance system with “0.001 degrees of per hour accuracy.”
On criticism that DRDO sometimes does not live up to expectations, he said the agency was as good as its counterparts in advanced countries.
“The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), F-18 and Eurofighter took similar number of years and cost wise they were three times more than what we have put in our LCA,” he said.
On the development of the Kaveri engine, Saraswat said it has performed well and was, “flown on an IL-76 aircraft in Russia for 55 hours of successful flight. We are going to upgrade it so that it can be used in India’s LCA Mark-II and future systems.”