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EU awards €100M in funds for hypersonic missile interceptor program

EU HYDER hypersonic missile interceptor program
Illustration. Diehl Defence photo of a IRIS-T-based GBAD system launch. Diehl is one of the companies participating in the EU HYDEF project

The European Union’s European Defence Fund (EDF) has awarded €100 million to an international consortium for work on the development of a European hypersonic missile interceptor.

Dubbed “European Hypersonic Defence Interceptor” (EU HYDEF), the missile defense program is one of several initiatives funded following the first ever calls for proposals under the EDF. A total of 61 collaborative defense research and development projects with a total EU support of almost €1.2 billion were selected for funding earlier this month.

EU HYDEF will define the concept for an interceptor to respond to high velocity threats from 2035 onwards. The project will result in the concept, risk mitigation and demonstration of an endo-atmospheric interceptor able to operate in different air levels. The system is envisioned as encompassing a new aerodynamic and actuator system for high maneuverability, agile guidance concepts, and advanced sensor/seeker systems.

The EU HYDEF project will be developed over three years with a budget of close to 110 million euros, of which almost 100 million will be financed by the European Commission, being, to date, the largest grant awarded by EDF to a project.

Spain’s SENER Aerospace will act as the prime contractor, leading an international consortium comprising 13 companies from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Norway, the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden.

EU HYDEF is related to the TWISTER (Timely Warning and Interception with Space-based TheatER surveillance) project of the PESCO Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative, led by France with the participation of several countries, including Spain, for the development of a complete defense system against hypersonic threats with surveillance from space.

Diehl Defence, a German missile specialist, revealed earlier this year it is working on the extension of the IRIS-T product family for ground-based air defense by a version for the defense of hypersonic threats. The so-called IRIS-T HYDEF would be a two-stage missile containing IRIS-T basic technology, extended by a highly agile upstage.