India Develops Powerful Pulse Detonation Engine for Cruise, Anti-Tank Missiles

A unit of DRDO is developing mechanically simpler, air-breathing multi-tube, multi-cycle pulse detonation engine. According to scientists, this pulse detonation engine can be used in cruise and anti-tank missile propulsion, unmanned aerial vehicles.

India Develops Powerful Pulse Detonation Engine for Cruise, Anti-Tank Missiles
Image credit: Defence News

The Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL), a unit of DRDO is developing air-breathing multi-tube, multi-cycle pulse detonation engine. It is the mechanically simpler engine, wherein the combustion wave travels at supersonic speeds relative to the unburnt fuel-oxidizer mixture.

The DRDO paper noted, “After achieving single shot detonation in a single tube in liquid fuel, TBRL has achieved multi-cycle operation of 8 Hz in single PDS tube. TBRL is working on air breathing multi-tube multi-cycle pulse detonation engine with an objective to develop an air-breathing Pulse Detonation Engine (with throttling) to generate 2.5 kN of thrust for a duration of 30 minutes.”

The engine utilizes repetitive detonations of the fuel-oxidizer mixture to produce thrust. It even reduces the length of the engine so that it can be applied in systems like UAVs and other missiles.

Ajey Lele, a security analyst at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses said, “This is a major step in the direction of developing advanced pulse detonation system and should be applauded. However, the challenge of developing indigenous flying engine is far from over and would require few other technological breakthroughs.”

According to scientists, this pulse detonation engine can be used in cruise and anti-tank missile propulsion, unmanned aerial vehicles. However, for flying systems detonation requires a long tube to adjust required amount of energy. So, scientists are working on a system to reduce the length of the engine so that it can be applied in systems like UAVs and other missiles system as well.

To do so, scientists will require suitable devices which reduce the length of the tube required for the transition from deflagration to detonation.

Rajiv Nayan, a missile technology expert said, “Developing indigenous pulse detonation technology is a big achievement for Indian scientists. This technology is very important for the cruise, anti-ship missile and UAVs which will be used in manipulating speed and fuel efficiency of the missile or drones.”