The Israeli company Rafael, which is known for its anti-missile defense complexes “Iron Dome” and “David’s Sling”, announced the development of an anti-aircraft missile system designed to intercept targets moving at hypersonic speeds.
The new system has already been named SkySonic, and the concept of the system has already been demonstrated in a video from Rafael:
At the same time, we are talking about real hypersonic missiles and aircraft that are equipped with a hypersonic direct-flow air-jet engine, and not about missiles that can reach such speeds thanks to a solid-fuel accelerator.
In addition to the completely logical declaration of the possibility of intercepting maneuvering targets, there is an extremely interesting detail in the video – the target destruction course. Considering the short episode, it is difficult to say with 100% certainty, but it seems that the possibility of hitting the object after catch-up is demonstrated. Whether this is so or an illusion of perception, we leave it up to everyone:
At the same time, modern anti-missile complexes can destroy targets only on opposite courses. And in order to catch up with a hypersonic target, it is necessary to move several times faster than it, i.e., the speed of the SkySonic missile should be roughly if we take the lower limit of hypersonic Mach 5 – Mach 10, i.e., 3.4 km/s. And for this system, the developer has already declared the interception of targets with a speed of Mach 10. For this, the SkySonic rocket is built according to a two-stage system, and it is the second-stage accelerator that allows the rocket to reach such high speeds.
At the same time, the main feature of SkySonic is not just the achievement of hypersonics, which requires a whole complex of scientific developments regarding materials and fuel, but also the speed of the reaction of the system itself and the means of guidance in the terminal area.
And returning to the topic of hitting hypersonic targets in pursuit, how to implement the latter in conditions when the striking block actually flies in plasma is probably the most important secret of SkySonic. At the same time, we are talking about ensuring the operation of such a system in the conditions of “space” oncoming speeds, approximately 7 km/s.
But Rafael announced that it would demonstrate this concept at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, which starts on June 19. And it seems very likely that SkySonic can objectively count on what will become its main premiere.