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Israel unveils first-ever hypersonic missile interceptor

Rafael's SkySonic system is in the advanced stages of development and will soon undergo live flight tests, the company says.

A rendering of Rafael's SkySonic hypersonic missile interceptor. Credit: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
A rendering of Rafael's SkySonic hypersonic missile interceptor. Credit: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems on Wednesday announced the development of what it said was the world’s first hypersonic missile interceptor, called SkySonic.

The decision by the state-owned defense contractor to publicize the project comes after last week’s unveiling of what Iran claimed is its first domestically manufactured hypersonic missile.

“We follow the developments and threats in the global arena and, as in the past, advance and develop the most advanced defense systems,” said Dr. Yuval Steinitz, chairman of Rafael. 

SkySonic is in advanced stages of development and will soon undergo its first live flight tests, the company said. Rafael is planning to showcase the interceptor at the Paris Air Show next week, and the firm said that it has already briefed the Pentagon on the development.

Hypersonic missiles can travel at least five times faster than the speed of sound, on complex trajectories, making it easier to evade aerial defense systems.

A rendering of Rafael’s SkySonic hypersonic missile interceptor. Credit: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems

Iran, a country whose leaders repeatedly call for Israel’s destruction, on June 6 unveiled the “Fattah” missile, that has a reported range of 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) and a maximum speed of Mach 13-15. 

“This missile targets the enemy’s anti-missile systems and is a big generational leap in the missile field,” said Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force.

The day after Iran’s unveiling, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant appeared to address the regime in Tehran.

”I hear our enemies boasting about weapons they are developing. To any such development, we have an even better response—whether it be on land, in the air, or in the maritime arena, including both defensive and offensive means,” said Gallant.

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