The Hypersonic Defence Interceptor Study (HYDIS) consortium took another important step step on 11 December 2023, as the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) signed a contribution agreement for the concept phase of Europe’s new hypersonic interceptor programme to support the development of a defensive capability to counter adversarial hypersonic threats.

HYDIS, coordinated by European missile manufacturer MBDA, aims to design various interceptor concepts and mature the associated critical technologies in order to deliver the best interception solution that meets the needs of its four co-funding member countries – France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands – while also complying with the European TWISTER capability programme. 

OCCAR, which has member states Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, will manage the project under indirect management mode on behalf of the European Commission, which announced backing from HYDIS in August.  

Projects under the indirect management mode – which account for around 10% of the overall EU budget according to the EU Commission – budget execution tasks are delegated by the European Commission to its implementing partners, such as OCCAR for the concept phase of HYDIS. 

HYDIS is the fifth EU Programme OCCAR will handle under this format, following two European Defence Industrial Development Programmes (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System and European Secure Software-defined Radio) and two European Defence Fund Programmes (Modular and Multirole Patrol Corvette and European Hypersonic Defence).

For five years MBDA has been developing counter-hypersonic air-defence as a part of HYDIS, with a consortium of 19 partners and 30 subcontractors across 14 European countries.

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The HYDIS project is a component of European states’ contributions to the mission of defending populations and armed forces against emerging hypersonic threats that represent a radical shift from ballistic threats. The consortium contributes to the AQUILA concept – which received €80m ($87.2m) without a call for funding through EDF’s 2030 work programme – for an endo-atmospheric hypersonic interceptor capability that can reach 100km above the surface of the Earth.

As of 30 March 2023, €123m of EDF funds had been earmarked for projects in air and missile defence, for the development of counter-UAS capabilities and an endo-atmospheric interceptor, from a total of €1.2bn that the EDF will provide for defence Research Design and Innovation (RD&I).

The HYDIS partners are ArianeGroup, Avio, Avio Aero, Bayern-Chemie, CIRA, DLR, GKN Fokker, LYNRED, MBDA España, MBDA France, MBDA Germany, MBDA Italia, OHB System AG, ONERA, ROXEL France, THALES LAS France, TDW, THALES Netherlands and TNO.