PARIS — European missile maker MBDA is leading a consortium of companies to conceptualize a prototype hypersonic interceptor for Europe over the next three years.

The missile systems and technology company has signed letters of intent with four European nations – France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands – to launch a concept stage for the Hypersonic Defense Interceptor Study, or HYDIS2, which would introduce several designs before choosing one, officials said June 19 during the Paris Air Show here.

The consortium includes 19 companies and 30 suppliers from 14 European countries, Bruno Verzotti, MBDA’s director of future systems, told a small group of reporters. Besides the four nations that have signed letters of intent to support HYDIS2, industry partners hail from Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, Spain and Belgium.

“HYDIS2 aims to define Europe’s interceptor,” Verzotti said during the briefing. After the three-year concept study is over, the plan is for the four nations underwriting HYDIS2 to choose one counter-hypersonic interceptor concept to push forward.

The company has been at work on counter-hypersonic technology for roughly the past four years, he said. Internally to MBDA, the capability under development has been dubbed “Aquila,” the Latin word for “eagle.”

The intent is for Aquila’s development to be linked to the EU-funded Timely Warning and Interception with Space-based TheatER Surveillance (TWISTER) program, supported by the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) scheme.

Nearly one year ago, the EU announced its initial roster of 61 programs to be supported by the European Defence Fund (EDF). One of those, the EU HYDEF effort, would cover the concept phase to build a similar endo-atmospheric interceptor, led by a consortium including Spain’s Sener Aerospacial Sociedad Anonima and Germany’s Diehl Defence.

The EU HYDEF program is expected to cost about €110 million ($100.74 million) and cover a 36-month period, the EU previously shared. It is also linked to the PESCO TWISTER program.

MBDA also submitted a bid to receive EDF funds to build an interceptor in 2022 under the moniker HYDIS. While their proposal was not selected then, officials are optimistic that a second effort – with the very same industry team – might prove more effective.

Meanwhile, Israeli arms maker Rafael announced June 14 that it had developed its own hypersonic interceptor dubbed “Sky Sonic.” The weapon was unveiled for the first time at this year’s Paris Air Show and is on display at the company’s stand.

Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.

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