New Delhi: India's showpiece supersonic cruise missile, the BrahMos, has now been successfully tested in a hypersonic version, though under laboratory conditions, according to BrahMos Aerospace chief executive officer, Dr A Sivathanu Pillai.
''We have achieved a speed of Mach 5.26 in our laboratory tests of the hypersonic version of the BrahMos. However, it will take some 15-20 tests under controlled conditions before the missile can be actually test-launched,'' Dr Pillai said.
The test was conducted at the Hyderabad-based Advanced Systems Laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which has developed the missile through a joint venture with Russia's NPO organisation.
The BrahMos missile is currently available in a tri-sonic form (Mach 2.86) and can be described as belonging to the high supersonic class, which describes missiles in the Mach 3-4 category. Hypersonic missiles fly at speeds over Mach 5.
According to Dr Pillai, the Brahmos hypersonic version will not only have higher speed, but will also consume less fuel and require less operational time to deploy. These qualities are expected to provide the missile longer range, and also ensure less reaction time from the enemy.
High speeds also make the missile difficult to detect, and increase the kinetic impact on the target.
The velocity of the missile is directly proportional to the destruction it causes, with higher velocities causing higher damage, Dr Pillai elaborated.
Dr Pillai also said the hypersonic version was powered by a scramjet engine that is also used for launching satellites at low cost.