What are hypersonic threats?

Saab has launched a new capability for naval radars, the Hypersonic Detection Mode. In this article we take a look at what hypersonic threats are all about and how navies can protect vessels against them.

Short video about the Hypersonic Detection Mode 

Let’s start with the speeds. Subsonic means slower than the speed of sound. Supersonic speeds are faster than the speed of sound. Hypersonic refers to speeds from five times the speed of sound and above.

These days, missiles are getting faster and faster. Threats in the high supersonic and even hypersonic speed ranges are starting to emerge. This is becoming a challenge for navies around the world. Because of the Earth’s curvature, the range of naval radars are limited by the radar horizon. When a low flying missile travelling at these extreme speeds approaches a vessel, the crew only has a few seconds to detect it and act before it is too late.

In order to meet the challenge of these emerging threats, Saab has developed the Hypersonic Detection Mode, a capability for detecting and tracking targets travelling at hypersonic speeds.  It will give the ship more time to act against any target due to quick track formation time.

The capability builds on Saab’s next generation track while scan technology, which enables track start within a fraction of a second. It will be able to track any number of targets, including stealthy ones, in all types of conditions.

The Hypersonic Detection Mode is optimised for the Sea Giraffe 4A Fixed Face, which is a fixed array configuration that belongs to Saab’s multi-functional family of S-band AESA radar systems.