In less than a week, Israel announced its development of an air defense system tailored specifically to counter hypersonic missiles. The new system, named “Sky Sonic” (Space and Space Sonic), has been in development by Israeli defense contractor “Rafael Advanced Defense Systems” for several years. It recently conducted its inaugural flight test and is set to make its public debut at the upcoming Paris Air Show.
In a promotional video released by Raphael, the system’s basic performance and operational principles are showcased through captivating animations. The interceptor bomb featured in the video utilizes a two-stage separation warhead with four wings. To ensure maximum mobility, the warhead is equipped with its own engine.
The “Aerospace Sonic” system boasts a main interception altitude ranging between 20 and 70 kilometers, which positions it between conventional air defense systems and anti-missile systems. This enables it to neutralize hypersonic missiles traveling at speeds of multiple Machs effectively.
One noteworthy aspect of the anti-missile system is its open architecture design, aimed at compatibility with existing air defense systems. This design approach has garnered positive responses, particularly from the United States.
The realization of these designs would mark a significant breakthrough in hypersonic missile defense, as highlighted by Rafael. The company refers to it as a “quantum leap” in technology for countering hypersonic missiles.
Israel’s sudden announcement of major achievements in hypersonic anti-missile defense is primarily targeted at Iran’s latest “Fattah” hypersonic missile.
However, in an intriguing move possibly intended to attract buyers like the United States, Rafael’s animation features a hypersonic missile resembling a combination of Dongfeng-17 and Dongfeng-21 rather than an Iranian missile.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the current stage of development for the “Aerospace Sonic” system is limited to the realm of animated anti-missile plans. Consequently, most experts exercise caution and reserve judgment until the system’s implementation details are revealed. Intercepting hypersonic vehicles necessitates a comprehensive system that cannot be achieved solely through the use of missile launch vehicles.
To achieve successful interception, certain key factors come into play: the ability to “detect,” “track,” and “accurately predict” missile trajectories. Rafael has stated that AeroSonic will be integrated into Israel’s multi-layer interception system, complemented by the national early warning system.
However, due to hypersonic missiles’ exceptional speed and maneuverability, which can alter their flight path mid-course, nations worldwide face the challenge of locating and predicting their trajectories in hypersonic anti-missile defense.
Some foreign experts have compared the difficulty of tracking hypersonic missiles to chasing a fly inside a room. While you may hear the fly buzzing, actually spotting it in the room is an occasional occurrence. Attempting to swat it mid-flight with a fly swatter requires sheer luck.
Consequently, if the “Aerospace Sonic” system and Israel’s national early warning system fail to address this challenge, intercepting hypersonic missiles would remain a formidable task.
Furthermore, the method of interception is of paramount importance.
Israel has disclosed that “Aerospace Sonic” primarily relies on kinetic energy or a specialized warhead equipped with a proximity fuze to neutralize incoming threats. Some experts speculate that this suggests the “air-space sonic” interceptors possess either substantial payload capacity or relatively high speeds.
However, based on the animations released by Raphael, these interceptors do not seem to exhibit such features.
Nevertheless, due to Raphael’s esteemed reputation, scientific research capabilities, and past successes with anti-missile systems like “Iron Dome,” “David Sling,” and “Iron Beam” lasers, there is optimism regarding their potential breakthrough in hypersonic interception.
The definitive response as to whether the existing barriers in intercepting hypersonic missiles will be surmounted is poised to be disclosed in the upcoming week. During this interim period, a palpable sense of anticipation exists worldwide as we eagerly anticipate the forthcoming revelations on the horizon.