Paris Air Show: Rafael to Unveil Hypersonic Missile Interceptor – Sky Sonic, Showcase its Wide Range of Advanced Systems, Capabilities

Defence Industry
Brigadier General Pini Yungman, Executive Vice President and Head of the Air Defence Division, Rafael

Haifa, Israel: Over the past years, the threat posed by hypersonic missiles has escalated, necessitating proactive measures to safeguard national security. Rafael, known for its pioneering contributions in the field of defence systems such as the renowned “Iron Dome,” “David’s Sling,” and the cutting-edge “Iron Beam” laser-based system, is proud to be at the forefront of developing an effective solution to counter hypersonic threats.

Israel’s leading defence technology company, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. will officially unveil the revolutionary system ‘Sky Sonic’ for the first time at the Paris Air Show, one of the world’s largest aerospace exhibitions, opening next week. Rafael on June 14 had announced that it has developed an advanced interceptor, named ‘Sky Sonic’ as a ground-breaking defensive response to the growing threat of hypersonic missiles.

The Paris Air Show, the world’s largest aerospace exhibition, will provide an excellent platform for Rafael to showcase its wide range of advanced systems and capabilities. Following a four-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, the show will feature for the first time unique Rafael solutions and systems. Visitors to the Rafael pavilion will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the “Iron Dome” system, the “David’s Sling” system, the “Iron Beam” laser air defence system, as well as advanced features of the “SPIKE” missiles integrated with combat helicopters, supplementary systems for aerial platforms, and much more.

The Sky Sonic interceptor represents a major technological leap in hypersonic missile defence. Designed with exceptional manoeuvrability and high-speed capabilities, it effectively neutralizes hypersonic missiles, which travel at ten times the speed of sound, with unmatched precision and stealth. Rafael’s booth at the Paris Air Show will showcase the interceptor, highlighting the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of air defence technology.

CEO of Rafael, Major General Yoav Har Even

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 manoeuvrability. 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.

Developing a comprehensive defensive response to hypersonic threats presents numerous complex challenges, including detection and tracking difficulties that necessitate a synchronised sensor system capable of accurately identifying and locating the threat throughout its trajectory. Furthermore, accurate trajectory prediction demands an interceptor that can swiftly reach the target, minimizing uncertainty associated with target location. Lastly, the interceptor must exhibit exceptional maneuverability and operate on a non-ballistic trajectory to effectively pursue and neutralize the hypersonic threat.

“Rafael has identified a marked increase and arousing interest in the international arena with proven operational capabilities and a geopolitical reality that has created many opportunities. We are following the developments and emerging threats in the current security context and are developing the most advanced defense systems. Project Sky Sonic is an innovative, unique development of its kind for the hypersonic weapon threat,” said Dr Yuval Steinitz, Chairman of Rafael.

The CEO of Rafael, Major General Yoav Har Even commented, “We are coming to the air show with Rafael’s vast and impressive portfolio that includes systems that are at the forefront of technology.  We at Rafael believe that even the seemingly impossible can be done.  We have proven this in the past and will continue to prove it in the future.  The orders for these systems are breaking records and for the first time we stand on a backlog of orders of over 40 billion NIS and alongside the activity as a successful global business company, Rafael continues to be a significant pillar in the security of the State of Israel.”

Brigadier General Pini Yungman, Executive Vice President and Head of the Air Defence Division at Rafael commented, “Rafael has achieved a reputation as a leading global manufacturer of air defense systems. From ground-breaking and operationally proven systems like the Iron Dome in its various configurations, to the David’s Sling and the SPYDER, we continue to look ahead and develop the next generations of systems to defend against the threats of tomorrow.”

The “David’s Sling” system, developed jointly by Rafael and the American company Raytheon, is a highly advanced solution for intercepting medium to long-range rockets, missiles, and cruise missiles. It utilises a Hit-to-Kill mechanism, making it the world’s leading interceptor. Equipped with a multi-stage interceptor that boasts rapid maneuverability, the system incorporates two targeting and guidance systems—a radar and an electro-optical sensor—at its nose tip. These cutting-edge technologies establish “David’s Sling” as a global breakthrough in missile defense.

Rafael’s “Iron Beam” system is set to be the world’s first operational High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS). It has successfully intercepted a wide range of aerial threats and is nearing its deployment phase. The “Iron Beam” system delivers unparalleled accuracy in intercepting rockets, mortar projectiles, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and UAV swarms from several kilometres to a few hundred meters away. As an integral part of the comprehensive “Iron Dome” air defense system, the “Iron Beam” significantly enhances its defensive capabilities.

The SPIKE missile family, renowned for its electro-optical capabilities, demonstrates remarkable effectiveness in various environments, including sea, air, and land. With a range of up to 32 km in ground launch and 50 km in air launch, the advanced SPIKE missiles offer unparalleled speed, accuracy, and the ability to neutralize multiple targets simultaneously. These state-of-the-art missiles empower combat helicopters with extended range and mission capabilities, revolutionizing their operational effectiveness.

Additionally, Rafael will present a range of cutting-edge systems designed for aerial platforms, incorporating the latest technological advancements to counter emerging threats effectively. The “Litening” and “RecceLite” systems, equipped with advanced intelligence gathering capabilities, along with the “SPICE” family and “Ice Breaker” long-range precision guided missile system, the “Sky Shield” electronic warfare system, and advanced air-to-air missiles will all be featured at the Rafael booth. These systems, already operational in numerous armed forces worldwide, offer upgrade possibilities for existing platforms, granting them capabilities equivalent to next-generation air platforms and systems.