Sales manager at European missile developer and manufacturer MBDA Peter Heilmeier has revealed in an interview with Die Welt newspaper that the company is currently working on a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) for the German military.
According to the MBDA official, the missile's development was requested by the German Armed Forces' procurement agency BAAINBw as a response to "threats of a certain type", such as missiles that were recently presented by the Russian president. Apart from this, the new hypersonic missile would be used to "crack modern [Russian] tanks", according to the MBDA manager. Heilmeier indicated that the new HGV will be "purely defensive" and will supplement existing systems, which have reached the maximum capacity in their ability to counter new threats.
The first trials are expected to take place in about three years, but the company is already mulling future development plans. The missile could become a part of the Tactical Air Defence System (TLVS) currently being developed by the MBDA to replace American Patriot air defence systems, the company's manager explained.
However, Heilmeier believes that such an integration project is too vast for Berlin to bear alone and suggested that it could become a European endeavour and attract investments from other states, allowing other EU countries to receive hypersonic missiles of their own.
The first hypersonic missile to be adopted by the military was presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin as he showcased new models of cutting-edge Russian military equipment during his address to the country in 2018. Among them was the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, capable of flying at a speed of around 27 Mach and thereby being rendered invulnerable to existing air defence systems. The Russian HGV is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear MIRV payloads of up to 50 tonnes.