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Details of EU HYDEF programme emerge as concept study phase begins

Team EU HYDEF displayed a mock-up of a potential interceptor at FEINDEF 2023. (Andrew White)

The Spanish-led consortium tasked with developing the European Hypersonic Defence (EU HYDEF) interceptor concept released further details of the programme at the FEINDEF 2023 exhibition in Madrid, held from 17 to 19 May.

An initial 36-month concept study and technologies maturation phase started this week, designed to define a concept for “a European interceptor to achieve the highest manoeuvrability and capability to respond to high-velocity threats”, according to European Defence Fund (EDF) documents.

“The project will result in the concept, risk mitigation, and demonstration of a cost-effective endo-atmospheric interceptor able to operate in different air levels encompassing new aerodynamic and actuator systems for high manoeuvrability, highly agile guidance concepts, and advanced sensor/seeker systems,” the documents added.

The initial study phase, led by the Spanish Missile Systems (SMS) consortium featuring Escribano Mechanical & Engineering, GMV, and Sener Aeroespacial, also includes the participation of industry partners from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Poland, and Sweden.

“This is a key programme for Europe, which is not capable right now [in this capability area],” an SMS spokesperson said during a company briefing at FEINDEF, before confirming the initial three-year phase was worth EUR110 million (USD119 million).

At FEINDEF, team EU HYDEF displayed a mock-up of a potential interceptor, although SMS officials said the study phase would be considering the inclusion of a rocket booster, a main engine (ramjet, rocket motor, or dual-motor concept), and a kill vehicle.

SMS's spokesperson added that development of concepts of operation associated with such a mission will also drive the specifications of the system, which could measure roughly the same size as a Patriot PAC-2 or PAC-3 missile.

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