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Rafael announces Sky Sonic interceptor to counter hypersonic threats

A computer-generated image of the Sky Sonic. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)

Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced on 14 June that it is developing a new air-defence missile called the Sky Sonic to intercept hypersonic threats.

In a statement released ahead of the missile's official unveiling at the Paris Air Show on 19 June, the company claimed the new interceptor offers “exceptional manoeuvrability and high-speed capabilities” enabling it to counter hypersonic missiles travelling at Mach 10 with “unmatched precision and stealth”.

During a briefing for Israeli journalists, a Rafael source described the Sky Sonic as a two-stage missile that is designed to intercept hypersonic threats at such high altitudes that they do not have an opportunity to manoeuvre into unpredictable flightpaths that make interception points difficult to calculate.

“At that height, it doesn't matter where it [the threat] is going,” the source said.

After separating from its booster, the missile's kill vehicle manoeuvres quickly to the calculated interception point with the aim of destroying the threat by directly hitting it, although it also has a warhead for a proximity kill. The source declined to comment on the kill vehicle's sensor.

The Sky Sonic will not need to be matched with a specific radar but will require a fully integrated ‘sky picture' generated by multiple radars to be effective, the source said.

The company began developing Sky Sonic as a private project three years ago after identifying the growing threat from hypersonic weapons. It has been displayed to the US Missile Defense Agency with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

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