OCCAR Poised to Present European Anti-Missile Defense by 2026

The Aquila interceptor / Illustrative rendercredit: MBDA
The Aquila interceptor / Illustrative rendercredit: MBDA

Just the research for creating the Aquila hypersonic missile interceptor for the Twister system will take €140 million

European intergovernmental Organisation For Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) signed a firm agreement with MBDA to develop a system of defense against hypersonic missiles. For now, it concerns the initial stage of work, i.e. the study of various concepts of interceptors and the development of critical technologies throughout the next three years. The program is titled HYDIS² — HYpersonic Defense Interceptor Study 2.

The project is estimated at 140 million euros, of which 80 million euros are taken from the European Defense Fund. They don't expect to get ready-made products with this money, but it's one of the important steps towards the realization of Europe's own anti-missile defense. The ultimate goal is to create an atmospheric interceptor that will be able to protect against maneuvering ballistic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles, and hypersonic glide vehicles.

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Basically, this financing goes straight to MBDA's project known as Twister with the Aquila interceptor, which by the time of agreement already had been receiving national funding, for example from the United Kingdom.

But now also the estimated implementation deadlines and details of this anti-missile defense program have become public. According to Janes and the anonymous source at MBDA asked about the project, HYDIS² is actually not just about concepts but aims to reach the TRL 6 level of readiness. That is, make a working beta prototype, and the technology must be demonstrated in action in its operational environment.

At the same time, the evaluation and presentation of technologies should begin as soon as 2026 and last for quite a long time, until 2029–2030. After that, the final design and production stage will begin, with the initial readiness of the anti-missile system for deployment planned no earlier than 2035.

On a reminder from Defense Express, the Twister project, in fact, has seen a slight shift in priorities because the Israeli Arrow 3 anti-missile defense system, that Germany purchased in September 2023 for $3.5 billion, was chosen as an interim solution. The Arrow 3 uses exo-atmospheric interception and is due to be delivered by 2025, with full operational readiness featuring omnidirectional capability achieved by 2030.

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