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Israel Rafael says it is developing hypersonic missile interceptor

June 14, 2023 at 7:39 pm

Promotional posters of Iran’s “first hypersonic ballistic” missile are hung on buildings and poles with writings “400 seconds to Tel Aviv” in Tehran, Iran on June 08, 2023 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli state-owned defence contractor behind the Iron Dome and David’s Sling air shields announced, on Wednesday, the development of a new system to counter hypersonic missiles, a week after Iran said it had produced its first such weapon, Reuters reports.

The SkySonic interceptor will “enable us to intercept all kinds of hypersonic threats – hypersonic ballistic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles,” Yuval Steinitz, Chairman of Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., told Reuters at a media event.

The Pentagon was briefed on the development, Rafael said. It declined to say if or when the Israeli military might deploy SkySonic. Israel’s Defence Ministry had no immediate comment.

Hypersonic missiles can fly at least five times faster than the speed of sound and on a complex trajectory, making them hard to shoot down.

READ: Iran unveils first alleged hypersonic missile, giving it significant military edge

An animated video rendition of SkySonic issued by Rafael showed an interceptor missile taking off vertically from a launch battery. The missile’s warhead is then shown detaching and flying with its own booster toward an incoming threat.

Rafael said the system would be unveiled at the Paris Air Show next week.

Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran, on 6 June went public with what it described as its first domestically made ballistic hypersonic missile, Fattah. The missile can reach 15,000 kms/hr (9,321 miles/hour) and evade Israeli defences like the short-range Iron Dome, Iran’s state TV said.

At the time, Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, said: “To any such development, we have an even better response.” He did not elaborate.

READ: Iran says ballistic missile program ‘defensive’