India announced it has developed a preliminary design for a hyperplane, the most ambitious project of the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Indian Parliament July 8 that DRDO scientists “have evolved” a hyperplane design based on “certain technology packages [which] are being developed with participation of academic institutions … However, no project has been sanctioned for developing a hyperplane.”
A senior DRDO scientist told DefenseNews.com on July 9 that the design for the hyperplane, called Avatar, is an effort by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Hyderabad; Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai; and the Aeronautical Development Agency, Bangalore.
The Avatar design is a kerosene-fueled, scramjet-powered vehicle and would be much cheaper to build and operate than hyperplanes under development in Germany, France and Japan, the DRDO scientist said.
The hyperplane would be able to take off from conventional airfields, collect air in the atmosphere on the way up, liquefy it, separate oxygen and store it on board for subsequent flight beyond the atmosphere, the scientist explained. He added that it could be put into orbit at around 250 kilometers above the earth and could fire missiles without being intercepted by the enemy.
“Avatar is primarily intended as a reusable missile launcher, one which can launch missiles, land back and be loaded again for more missions,” the DRDO scientist said.
DRDO has announced no timeframe for building an Indian hyperplane, and the scientist refused to discuss any details for possible construction.