Monday, 7th September 2020, the Defence Research and Development Organisation aka DRDO made India join the elite group and stand forth in the rank after China, Russia and the USA.

DRDO test-fired the HSTDV aka the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle from Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha. It is considered that this huge achievement will ensure the development of hypersonic cruise missiles in future.

At this moment this is the most talked-about incident that took place in 2020 and there is a fair chance that questions from this topic may come in the upcoming UPSC IAS exam. So, let’s waste no more time and dig a little deeper into this topic. Let’s find out how many countries have hypersonic missiles? What are the names of those countries with hypersonic missiles?

What is Hypersonic Missile?

An unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft, this is the most simple description of HSTDV. This is designed to travel at a speed exceeding 3,800 miles per hour. The hypersonic missile speed is much more than other cruise and ballistic missiles.

These are considered to have a combination of cruise missile’s manoeuvring capabilities and ballistic missile’s speed. Unlike traditional missile’s tech, HSTDVs are hard to track due to their speed.

In future, these can be used for low-cost launching of satellites and cruise missiles of low-range.  Other than these, there are other civilian applications of HSTDV.

What is Hypersonic Cruise Missile?

The hypersonic cruise missile, running at five times more speed than the speed of sound, is presently the fastest missile in the world.

Following are Some of the Hypersonic Cruise Missile:

  • 3M22 Zircon – Hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile by Russia.
  • 14-X – hypersonic glide vehicle mounted on a VSB-30 rocket by Brazil.
  • BrahMos-II – Hypersonic missile by India and Russia.
  • Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle – Hypersonic scramjet demonstration by India.
  • High-Speed Strike Weapon – Boeing X-51 based missile by the United States.
  • Kh-90 – Hypersonic air-to-surface cruise missile. Developed in 1990 by the Soviet Union/ Russia.
  • DF-ZF – DF-17 mounted hypersonic glide vehicle by China.

Which Countries have Hypersonic Missiles?

Before India successfully test-fired the missile, the US, Russia and China were the hypersonic technology countries. Now India has also become a part of these hypersonic technology countries.

Hypersonic Missile Country List

  • India
  • USA
  • China
  • Russia

As per the reports from CNBC, Australia, Japan and France are also in the queue of pursuing this technology.

Also Read : Top 10 probable questions on demonetization in UPSC Mains!

Role of India in Hypersonic Missile

For the first time, a successful flight test of the HSTDV was carried by the DRDO. This flight test is the first step on the path that leads to the development of ultra-modern weapons of the new class having the capacity to travel six times more than the speed in which the sound travels.

A solid rocket motor was used for launching this newly tested missile. That rocket motor took the vehicle to an altitude of 30 km. There the aerodynamic heat shields got separated at a hypersonic Mach number.

This success takes India’s technology development to a higher level and it is considered that this will lead you to much more development of critical technologies.

Important Facts about Hypersonic Missile India for UPSC IAS Examination

  • On Monday, 7th September 2020 India India successfully tested an HSTDV.
  • This vehicle is capable of moving at 6 times faster than the speed of sound.
  • In the coming 5 years, India plans to develop a hypersonic missile.
  • The test was successfully carried by the DRDO/ Defence Research and Development Organisation.
  • India is now the fourth numbered in the list of countries with hypersonic technology.
  • The test was carried out from Wheeler Island, presently known as Abdul Kalam Island. Odisha.
  • The HSTDV has many civilian applications other than just being used as a vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles.
  • In future, this can be used for launching small satellites at lower expenses.
  • The indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system was used in the HSTDV.
  • Agni missile booster was used.
  • multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and telemetry stations monitored the parameters of launch and cruise vehicle that included the scramjet engine.
Other Successful Tests
  • Thermo-structural characterisation of high-temperature materials
  • Aerodynamic configuration for hypersonic manoeuvers
  • Separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities
  • Use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and sustained combustion at a hypersonic flow.

Features of Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles

  • Hypersonic missile speed is faster than 3,800 miles per hour or 6,115 km per hour which is way faster than other cruise and ballistic missiles.
  • Conventional or nuclear payloads can be delivered within minutes.
  • Highly manoeuvrable.
  • Predictable arcs are not followed as they travel.
  • Developed in a combination of manoeuvring capabilities of cruise missiles with the speed of ballistic missiles.
  • Unlike traditional missile tech, these are hard to track due to their high speed.

Hypersonic Missile in The United States

  • In March 2010, The United States successfully tested an unarmed prototype of a hypersonic missile which is a nuclear-capable weapon having the capability to accelerate the arms race between superpowers.
  • It flew at a speed more than five times the speed of sound that is Mach 5.
  • Before this, in October 2017, the US Army and Navy jointly conducted a flight experiment.
  • This can switch direction in flight.
  • Unlike conventional missiles, this won’t follow a predictable arc.
  • Hard to track and intercept.

Hypersonic Missile in Russia

  • Avangard is developed to deliver both conventional and nuclear payloads.
  • It was flight tested between February 2015 and June 2016.
  • In its test, the speed reached 11,200 kilometres per hour.
  • On 26 December 2018, the latest flight test occurred and this time it flew at 27 times the speed of sound.
  • It is designed without an independent propulsion system.
  • It is a pure glide vehicle.

Hypersonic Missile in China

  • Xingkong-2 “waverider” A missile having speed six times more than the speed of sound.
  • Dongfeng-17 –  rocket-boosted hypersonic glide vehicle.
  • Dongfeng-17 was displayed in a military parade.


This successful flight test is a historic moment for India and with the success of this mission, everyone is hoping for much more technical developments to take place in the near future.

This is probably one of the biggest news in 2020 and UPSC IAS aspirants should leave no stone unturned about this topic. Hopefully, this article will help you know all that is important about it. Do share your thoughts about this article by writing down in the comment box below.

Also Read : UPSC after Engineering: Is it a good idea?

Content Protection by
Countries with Hypersonic Missiles: How Many Countries have Hypersonic Missiles?
Article Name
Countries with Hypersonic Missiles: How Many Countries have Hypersonic Missiles?
What is a hypersonic missile? Which countries have hypersonic missiles? Read on to know everything important about hypersonic missile India for the upcoming UPSC IAS exam.
Publisher Name
UPSC Pathshala
Publisher Logo

About the Author


Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

View All Articles