India's first scramjet technology demonstrator will be flight-tested next year, four years later than planned and having failed to meet two previous targets, by the government-run Defence Research and Development Laboratory in Hyderabad.

The Indian military wants to use scramjet systems for a hypersonic missile. The first demonstrator flight test will be carried out at India's integrated test range on its east coast.

Flight International revealed in 2004 that the country had planned a 2006 scramjet test. When that failed to take place, Israel Aerospace Industries announced in 2007 it was helping India develop the technology for a first flight in 2008.

"The biggest challenge [will] be how to sustain stable combustion during the high-speed trans-atmospheric flight of the vehicle," says sources at the Indian government's Defence Research and Development Organisation, under which the laboratory operates.

India has longer-term plans to use scramjet technology for its proposed 25,000kg (55,000lb) spaceplane called Avatar, the Sanskrit word for a god who appears in bodily form on Earth. The spaceplane would ferry civilian and military satellites of about 1,000kg into a low Earth orbit.

Source: Flight International