As said by an independent Congressional report, India is among those nations which are developing hypersonic weapon systems. The report comes amidst a media report claiming China to have recently tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that had circled the globe before missing its target. This weapon developed by China demonstrated an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.
In the latest report issued by the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS), countries including India, Germany, Australia, Japan and France also fall under the list of nations developing hypersonic weapons, although the most advanced hypersonic weapon programmes are possessed by the US, Russia and China.
The CRS said in its report that while India has collaborated with Russia, Australia has a collaboration with the United States on this.
For the development of a Mach 7 hypersonic cruise missile, BrahMos II, India has collaborated with Russia, the report further added. While for the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) programme, which was aimed to develop hypersonic technologies, the US had collaborated with Australia back in 2007.
On the other hand, on the development of hypersonic technology, France has also collaborated and contracted with Russia similarly as India did. According to the report, Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM) and the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP) are currently being developed by Japan.
A Hypersonic Race
The report also added that around 12 hypersonic wind tunnels which are capable of testing speeds of up to Mach 13 are currently being operated by India, while in the previous week, it was reported by The Financial Times that China had tested hypersonic missiles.
The claim was rejected by China, saying that it had tested a hypersonic “vehicle” and not a nuclear-capable hypersonic “missile”. The leading British newspaper had also said that the missile had missed its target by two-dozen miles.
As a part of India’s Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle programme, an indigenous, dual-capable hypersonic cruise missile is also being developed by India and has successfully tested a Mach 6 scramjet in June 2019 and September 2020.
Recent US Developments
The United States has laid focus on putting efforts into the development of hypersonic glide vehicles in recent years. Before gliding to a target, these vehicles are to be launched from a rocket while the hypersonic cruise missiles are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines during flight, as said by the CRS.
On the other hand, the CRS also said that to provide an ability to strike hardened or time-sensitive targets with conventional warheads, as well as through several Air Force, Army and DARPA programmes, under the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike programme, hypersonic weapons are currently being developed by the Department of Defense.