Rafael ready to collaborate with European industry on hypersonic technologies

By Arie Egozi

The change in the European attitude about readiness for attacks by advanced weapons that are in the hands of Russia may help to form a cooperation between the Israeli company Rafael and a European consortium formed to get ready for the threat of hypersonic missiles. Germany, following the war in Ukraine, purchased the Israeli Arrow 3 systems aimed at intercepting ballistic missiles.


Germany, following the war in Ukraine, purchased the Israeli Arrow 3 systems aimed at intercepting ballistic missiles.

“Europe has been slow in developing some weapon systems. The war in Ukraine serves as a wakeup call, and Israel can shorten the development process,” a senior Israeli defence source told Shepherds Media.




According to a recent statement by the European Commission, the threat spectrum is rapidly evolving, also in the context of hypersonic attack missiles. A truly European interceptor capability would lead to an enhanced protection of the European territory and its citizens, as well as potential areas of conflict and crises in which Europe would operate.

Additionally, such a European interceptor capability would contribute to NATO, making it more resilient. The statement says that the European Commission has entrusted the management of this project to the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), which, on 31 October 2023, signed with SMS – SISTEMAS DE MISILES DE ESPAÑA SL, as consortium coordinator, a Grant Agreement amounting to EUR 100 million from the EDF and, in parallel, an associated Linked Procurement Contract worth EUR 10 million on behalf of the EU HYDEF Participating States (i.e., Belgium, Germany, Norway, Poland, and Spain).



In 2023, the Israeli company Rafael, which developed the Iron Dome and David’s Sling combat-proven air defence systems, announced it is developing the Sky Sonic, an air defence system that will be capable of intercepting hypersonic missiles. The Israeli Ministry of Defence was reluctant to finance the development phase, claiming that the threat is not imminent. Rafael began the development with its own resources but now is looking for partners, and the European decision seems a good potential for cooperation.

Hypersonic missiles encompass a new family of threats, including hypersonic atmospheric cruise missiles, gliders, and cruisers that travel at incredible speeds while maintaining exceptional accuracy and maneuverability. Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles have the ability to change their course mid-flight.

Consequently, a successful defense against hypersonic threats requires a multifaceted approach that involves not only countering their speed but also effectively tracking, detecting, and intercepting their unpredictable flight paths. During the war in Ukraine, Russia claimed it used a Hypersonic missile. According to this report, the Russian air force launched this type of missile, the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, from a Mig-31K fighter aircraft.




The Rafael spokesperson told Defence Industry Europe that there is great interest in the program and talks with “friends in Europe” about air defence. The Israeli Ministry of Defence has not responded to my question about the issue.



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