Israeli defence industry develops solutions against hypersonic threats

By Arie Egozi

As countries like North Korea gallop towards operational capability with hypersonic missiles, the counter-effort to achieve protection systems against this very serious threat is gaining momentum.


North Korea, a country that has supplied weapon systems to Iran and some of its proxies fighting now against Israel, has recently performed a test with a hypersonic missile. According to the North Korean news agency, the General Missile Bureau of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea successfully test-fired an intermediate-range, solid-propellant ballistic missile loaded with a hypersonic mobile control warhead on the afternoon of January 14.



According to this report, the test-firing aimed at confirming the gliding and maneuvering characteristics of the intermediate-range hypersonic mobile control warhead and the reliability of the newly-developed multistage high-thrust solid-propellant motors. Israel realized some years ago that it needs another layer of defense to be ready for the hypersonic missiles threat. Russia has achieved some milestones in the development of hypersonic missiles, but the program has now been stopped due to the war in Ukraine.

It is clear that Israel will have to make changes in its multi-layered defense system against rockets and missiles, to be ready for the possible use of hypersonic missiles by Iran. Iran, according to sources, makes big efforts to get technologies related to hypersonic missiles, probably from North Korea. It is known that North Korea has in the past helped Iran in the development of ballistic missiles.

A hypersonic missile travels at 5-10 Mach speeds and can reach a range of 1,200 miles. These facts alone make the defense against this evolving threat more difficult and create an urgent need for upgraded or new defense systems.



Israel has a four-layered rocket and missile protection system that is operational and being upgraded continuously. Arrow 2 and 3, made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), are the upper layers of a system designed to defend Israel from rockets and missiles. Additional layers are the Rafael “Iron Dome” and “David’s Sling.” Now under development is the Arrow 4, designed to intercept advanced ballistic missiles but not a hypersonic one.

The hypersonic threat is growing, and Israeli companies, mainly Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael, are working to find solutions. The efforts are based on some combat-proven technologies developed by the two companies. Now, with the growing interest in developing defense systems against the new threat, the Israeli companies are offering to join forces with European companies working on a solution.



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