DRDO Tech Prowess: India becomes 3rd nation to open hypersonic wind tunnel

Photo: India’s defence minister being briefed on the hypersonic wind tunnel opened in Hyderabad by DRDO.

Hyderabad (India): India has opened a new Hypersonic Wind Tunnel (HWT) test facility here, becoming only the third nation globally after the United States and Russia to have such large capabilities in terms of size and operations.

The facility was opened yesterday by Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh during his tour of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories in the capital city of India’s southern state of Telangana.

“The state-of-the-art HWT test facility is a pressure vacuum driven enclosed free jet facility having nozzle exit diameter of one metre and will simulate Mach 5 to Mach 12,” a Ministry of Defence statement said today. Mach represents the multiplication factor to the speed of sound.

“After USA and Russia, India is the third country to have such a large facility in terms of size and operating capability. It is an indigenous development and an outcome of synergistic partnership with Indian industries,” the statement said.

“The facility has the capability to simulate hypersonic flow over a wide spectrum and will play a major role in the realization of highly complex futuristic aerospace and defence systems.”

L&T-Built Facility

The DRDO’s HWT facility is designed and built by India’s private sector Larsen and Toubro (L&T), which won a ‘Buy (Global)‘ tendering process.

The facility was built in record time by L&T, which had previously partnered with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to build their hypersonic wind tunnel at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, India’s sourthern-most province on the West coast. This track record enabled L&T to design and build a tunnel for DRDO and winning the global tender.

Such facilities are few in the world and have taken 12 years to13 years to build. This facility at Hyderabad has been built well within contractual timelines and in below five years as on date. It was ready in March-April but awaited formal commissioning. The first cold blow-downs started in Mar. 2019 in three and a half years.

Minister Visit to DRDO Labs

Rajnath Singh, during the trip, visited DRDO’s Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Missile Complex and was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy and DRDO Chairman and Department of Defence Research and Development Secretary Dr G. Satheesh Reddy.

The minister received briefings regarding the ongoing projects and technological developments from DRDO cluster director generals, laboratory directors and programme directors.

City-based DRDO laboratories showcased various indigenously developed systems and technologies in wide ranging areas including missiles, avionics systems, advanced materials, electronic warfare, quantum key distribution technology, directed energy weapons, Gallium Arsenide and Gallium Nitride technology capabilities.


DRDO Young Scientists’ Laboratory – Asymmetric Technologies (DYSL-AT) and Research Centre Imarat demonstrated drone and innovative anti-drone technologies. It has multiple capabilities including neutralising ground targets and anti-drone applications to counter stationery as well as high-speed moving targets.

Key features of these weapon system include secure communication link, effective recoil management system, high firing angular resolution and vision-based target detection and tracking.

An exhibition of a range of missile systems, various avionic systems and other technologies were organised.

Kishan Reddy laid the foundation stone of Explosive Test Facility for Propellant and Explosive Systems. This facility will be used for design validation and evaluation of missile sub-systems under different environmental conditions.

He appreciated the efforts of DRDO for developing such a large number of systems. He said that he is happy that so much of high technology work is happening in the Hyderabad region, where he belongs.

Rajnath Singh addressed the DRDO fraternity and applauded the phenomenal technological achievements and recent series of successful missions and technological achievements by various clusters of DRDO including Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV), Anti-Radiation Missile (RUDRAM), Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM), Supersonic Missile Assisted Release Torpedo (SMART) and Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology during last six months.

He lauded DRDO contributions, despite COVID pandemic conditions, towards strengthening ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat‘ and for leading the indigenous development of state-of-the-art technology products and innovative solutions.

He congratulated Dr Satheesh Reddy for DRDO’s contribution to the development of technologies and products for combating COVID-19 pandemic.

He acknowledged the tremendous efforts in establishment of COVID-19 hospitals at Delhi and Bihar, development of indigenous ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment kits and other protective equipment in short span of time.

Rajnath Singh appreciated the endeavors of contributions of DRDO Young Scientist Laboratories, and said DRDO needs to focus on next generation needs including cyber security, space and artificial intelligence and evolve roadmaps.

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