This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “HYPERSONIC WEAPONS TECHNOLOGY”. The topic “HYPERSONIC WEAPONS TECHNOLOGY” has relevance in the Science and Technology section of the UPSC CSE exam.


For Prelims:

What is Hypersonic Weapons Technology?

For Mains:

GS 3: Science and Technology.

Benefits for India in developing Hypersonic Weapons Technology?

Challenges for India in developing Hypersonic Weapons Technology?

Why in the news?

Iran claimed that it had created a hypersonic missile capable of travelling at 15 times the speed of sound. The announcement comes as tensions remain high with the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.

What is Hypersonic Weapons Technology?

Hypersonic technology refers to the field of study and development of systems capable of achieving speeds greater than Mach 5, revolutionizing aerospace, defense, and transportation sectors with their exceptional speed, maneuverability, and potential for precise strikes.

  • Speed: Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds exceeding Mach 5, which is more than five times the speed of sound. This equates to approximately 6,174 kilometers per hour or 3,836 miles per hour.
  • Maneuverability: Hypersonic weapons possess the ability to perform high-speed, evasive maneuvers during their flight trajectory. This maneuverability makes them challenging to track and intercept, increasing their effectiveness and survivability.
  • Boost-Glide System: Many hypersonic weapons employ a boost-glide system. They are launched into space using traditional rocket boosters and then glide through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. This combination of propulsion and gliding allows for extended range and flexibility in targeting.
  • Advanced Materials: Hypersonic weapons require advanced materials capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and pressures generated during hypersonic flight. These materials must maintain structural integrity and thermal protection to ensure the weapon’s effectiveness.
  • Dual-Use Applications: Hypersonic technology has both military and civilian applications. While the focus here is on hypersonic weapons, the technology also has potential applications in areas such as space exploration, transportation, and rapid response for disaster relief.
  • Arms Race Concerns: The development of hypersonic weapons has raised concerns about an arms race, as countries strive to maintain a competitive edge in military capabilities. The rapid advancement of this technology has prompted discussions on arms control measures and the need for international cooperation.
  • Precision Strikes: Hypersonic weapons have the potential to deliver highly precise and rapid strikes against time-sensitive targets. Their speed and maneuverability enable them to reach targets quickly and with increased accuracy, reducing the time available for detection and response.
  • US, Russia and China are in advanced stages of hypersonic missile programmes, India, France, Germany, Japan and Australia too are developing hypersonic weapons.


Benefits for India in developing Hypersonic Weapons Technology?

  • Defense Modernization: Developing hypersonic weapons allows India to modernize its defense capabilities and maintain a technological edge. It provides an opportunity to enhance India’s deterrence capabilities and ensure national security in an evolving strategic environment.
  • Strategic Autonomy: Investing in hypersonic weapons technology offers India greater strategic autonomy. By developing indigenous capabilities, India can reduce its reliance on imports and strengthen its defense industry. This promotes self-sufficiency and enhances the country’s defense resilience.
  • Regional Power Projection: Hypersonic weapons can provide India with enhanced power projection capabilities in the region. The ability to rapidly deploy and deliver precise strikes with hypersonic speed can bolster India’s deterrence posture and increase its influence in the region.
  • Enhanced Border Security: India shares borders with countries facing geopolitical challenges. Hypersonic weapons can offer India an advantage in defending its borders and responding effectively to potential threats. The speed and maneuverability of these weapons can help deter aggression and protect national interests.
  • Technological Advancements: Developing hypersonic weapons necessitates advancements in various domains, including materials science, propulsion systems, guidance systems, and hypersonic aerodynamics. The research and development efforts in these areas can lead to spin-off technologies that benefit other sectors, such as aerospace, energy, and transportation.
  • International Collaboration: India has the opportunity to engage in international collaborations and partnerships in the field of hypersonic weapons technology. Collaborative projects can help share knowledge, expertise, and resources, fostering innovation and accelerating development timelines.
  • Export Potential: As India progresses in hypersonic weapons technology, there may be potential for export of these systems to friendly nations. This can not only strengthen India’s defense industry but also contribute to strategic partnerships and diplomatic relations.
  • Technological Catch-Up: Hypersonic weapons technology is advancing rapidly, and several countries have made significant strides in this field. By investing in this technology, India has the opportunity to catch up and bridge the gap with other technologically advanced nations.
  • Dual-Use Applications: The research and development in hypersonic technology have dual-use applications beyond defense. The advancements can be leveraged for civilian purposes, such as space exploration, transportation, and scientific research, contributing to India’s overall technological progress.
  • National Pride: Achieving success in developing hypersonic weapons will boost India’s national pride and showcase its scientific and technological capabilities on a global stage. It will demonstrate India’s commitment to innovation, self-reliance, and defense modernization.


Challenges for India in developing Hypersonic Weapons Technology?

  • Technological Complexity: Hypersonic weapons technology is highly complex and requires expertise in various disciplines, including aerodynamics, materials science, propulsion systems, and guidance technologies. Developing indigenous capabilities in these areas and mastering the necessary technologies pose significant challenges.
  • Research and Development: Developing hypersonic weapons requires substantial investment in research and development (R&D) efforts. India needs to allocate sufficient resources and establish dedicated R&D facilities, laboratories, and test ranges to advance its hypersonic capabilities. 
  • Advanced Materials: Hypersonic flight exposes the weapon to extreme temperatures, pressures, and aerodynamic forces. Developing materials capable of withstanding these conditions while maintaining structural integrity is a significant challenge. 
  • Propulsion Systems: Hypersonic weapons require advanced propulsion systems capable of achieving and sustaining hypersonic speeds. Developing efficient and reliable propulsion systems that can handle the extreme conditions of hypersonic flight is a technical challenge that needs to be overcome.
  • Guidance and Control Systems: Achieving precise guidance and control of hypersonic weapons at such high speeds presents a significant challenge. Developing advanced sensors, navigation systems, and control algorithms that can operate effectively under hypersonic conditions is crucial.
  • Test and Evaluation: Testing hypersonic weapons is challenging due to the high speeds and extreme conditions involved. India needs to establish suitable test ranges and facilities for testing hypersonic technologies, including ground testing, wind tunnel testing, and flight testing. 
  • Export Control and Non-Proliferation: Hypersonic weapons fall under the purview of export control regimes and non-proliferation agreements. India needs to navigate these international frameworks to ensure responsible technology transfer, comply with non-proliferation norms, and engage in transparent discussions regarding the development and deployment of hypersonic weapons.
  • Operational Challenges: Integrating hypersonic weapons into existing military infrastructure and operational doctrines poses challenges. Coordinating with other military assets, developing appropriate command and control systems, and training personnel to effectively utilize and integrate hypersonic weapons require careful planning and coordination.
  • Safety and Security: The high speeds and potential destructive capabilities of hypersonic weapons raise concerns regarding safety during testing, deployment, and storage. Strict safety protocols and secure storage facilities need to be established to mitigate risks and ensure the safe handling and operation of hypersonic weapons.


Q.1 Which of the following statements regarding hypersonic weapons technology is correct?

1.Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds exceeding Mach 2.

2.Hypersonic weapons are primarily designed for long-range reconnaissance.

3.Hypersonic weapons utilize traditional ballistic missile technology.

4.Hypersonic weapons possess low maneuverability and rapid response capabilities.

Select the correct answer from the options given below:

(a)1 and 2 only

(b)1, 2 and 3 only

(c)1,2,3 and 4

(d)None of the above

Answer: (d)

Q.2 Which of the following is a key challenge associated with hypersonic weapons technology?

(a) Limited range compared to traditional ballistic missiles.

(b) Inability to withstand extreme temperatures during flight.

(c) Difficulty in tracking and intercepting due to high maneuverability.

(d) Lack of precision in targeting time-sensitive objectives.

Answer: (d)

Q.3 Discuss the strategic implications and challenges of hypersonic weapons technology in the global security landscape.

Yojna daily current affairs eng med 14th June 2023

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