India's hypersonic missile, Shourya, was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur on the Orissa coast on Saturday.

The missile rose on the dot at 2.30 p.m. from a canister strapped on to the ground, climbed to an altitude of 40 km and sped at 7.5 Mach, that is, 7.5 times the speed of sound. It covered its full range of 700 km in 500 seconds. The surface-to-surface missile performed a manoeuvre in the closing stages of its flight and hit the impact point in the Bay of Bengal with an accuracy of a few metres. A gas generator located at the bottom of the canister pushed the missile out of the canister, then its first stage ignited and fell off, and the second stage went into action.

Shourya is the land-variant of India's K-15 missile which is launched under the water and is being fitted into the Navy's nuclear-powered submarine, Arihant.

This is the third flight of Shourya, all of which have been successful and this flight paves the way for its production and induction into the Services. It was designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads. The missile can be used by both the Navy and the Army because it could perform various roles.

Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, said, “the flight went off absolutely perfectly” and it met all the mission objectives. The missile was tested in its final configuration. The radars located at the ITR at Chandipur and at Damra on the Orissa coast, electro-optical and telemetry systems and two ships located near the impact point tracked the missile's entire flight. They reported on its “excellent performance.”

Mr. Avinash Chander said it was “an entirely atmospheric flight” at a height of 40 km. Since this was the third successful flight in a row, “the development phase is over and we are going in for production of this missile.”

DRDO officials estimate Shourya as “one of the top 10 missiles in the world' in its class with its high performance navigation and guidance systems, efficient propulsions systems, sophisticated control technologies and canisterised launch.

V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Hyderabad, called it “a good flight” and added that “we achieved the full range for the ground launch configuration.” As per the mission requirements, the missile performed the terminal manoeuvres to achieve the impact point accuracy. The ASL had developed the rocket motors and the canister for the progamme. With the confidence provided by the third successful launch, its production would proceed as per plan, Dr. Sekaran added.

Research Centre at Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad, was the lead designer of the state-of-the-art navigation, control and guidance systems, according to RCI associate director S.K. Chaudhuri.

The missile can be launched from silos and canisters mounted on a truck and fixed on the ground. It can be easily moved around. A truck itself can become the launching platform.

According to W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller (Life Sciences and International Relations), DRDO, Shourya had a big element of surprise because it could be kept in locations where the enemies would not be able to detect it. “Besides, it cannot be detected by satellite imaging. It will surprise our adversaries and strengthen our strategic defence,” Dr. Selvamurthy asserted.

Shourya's Programme Director A.K. Chakrabarti, who led the launch activities for the mission, said, “Our [Armed] Forces will get a very good system” with the Shourya because “we have perfected it, made it valid and increased its reliability.” Shourya's project director is A. Joseph.

The missile is ten metres long, 74 cm in diameter and weighs 6.2 tonnes. Its two stages use solid propellants.

With Shourya ready for production and its under-water cousin, K-15, already under production, the DRDO's sights are set on K-4 missile, which will be launched from a submarine. After K-4 is launched under water, it will knife up to the surface and can target places 3,000 km away. “Various systems of K-4 are under development,” a DRDO official said.