The international manufacturer of missile systems MBDA has reached a preliminary agreement with the authorities in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy to create a prototype system of protection against hypersonic weapons, the company’s executive director Eric Beranger said, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The development should be completed within three years, he said. “The defense system could be deployed across Europe to shoot down missiles that travel at 6,900 miles [11,000 kilometers] per hour”, Beranger said.
He added that the project would “contribute to strengthening the sovereign missile systems industry in Europe” as well as “improve the competitiveness of the European industry.” “MBDA wants to remain at the forefront of innovation and lead Europe toward the most effective solution for deterring hypersonic threats”, Beranger said. MBDA is partly owned by British defense company BAE Systems.
Hypersonic can reach speeds of no less than Mach 5, about 6,000 kilometers per hour, which is five times the speed of sound. China, the US and Russia are engaged in the development of such weapons.
The centerpiece of Moscow’s hypersonic arsenal is the Zircon missile. Its maximum speed reaches nine speeds of sound, and its maximum range is one thousand kilometers. Vladimir Putin called the Zirkon “unstoppable”.
Meanwhile, during the war in Ukraine, it turned out that the Russian hypersonic rocket “Kinjal” – another of the five types of “miracle weapons” that Putin presented in 2018 – was vulnerable to American Patriot air defense systems. The brainchild of the state arms program, on which the government has spent 20 trillion rubles over the past 10 years, was shot down in a night attack on Ukrainian territory on May 4.
An agreement to counter hypersonic weapons was reached between the U.S. and Britain last July, said Wes Kremer, president of Pentagon supplier Raytheon. The head of the company Cohort Andy Tomis, which makes equipment for the British Navy, confirmed that his corporation is engaged in the development of appropriate systems.
On June 1, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said that Tokyo and Washington were also discussing the possibility of working together in this area.
On June 14, the Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced the development of the Sky Sonic air defense system designed to intercept hypersonic missiles. Its head Yuval Steinitz claimed that the project is based on unique technology that has no analogues in the world.