A1 interceptor airframes during fabrication phase.

The A1 Interceptor — Anti-Ballistic and Hypersonic Missile Defence — Part II

Dumitru Popescu
Commercial ECOROCKET
4 min readJan 15, 2024

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The A1 interceptor is a single stage, liquid fuel rocket using IRST detection and existing air defence radar detection capabilities.

The rocket derives from ARCA’s EcoRocket Universal Propulsion Module (UPM). The engine’s exhaust gases are only water vapours and oxygen, at temperatures of 80oC. This makes the interceptor immune to IR tracking, while allowing the launch from the DA centre with minimal impact on the surrounding assets and personnel.

The A1 interceptor is built entirely from composite materials that are radio transparent, and therefore have a low radar signature.

Another interesting feature of the A1 interceptor is the generation of a substantial amount of water vapours. Because of the interceptor’s close proximity to the defended area, these vapours could provide a welcomed added decoy against the attacking vehicles that use optical guidance systems.

The interceptor have no onboard electronics, and the whole firing sequence and flight is performed via electromechanical systems. This makes it virtually immune to electronic warfare action.

Also, salvos of A1 interceptors could be fired to increase the kill and deception probability.

The A1 will work in conjunction with higher altitude anti-missile defence systems and could even use their detection and tracking capabilities for a higher range detection, even with no hardware interaction between these systems.

A1 interceptor technical characteristics:

As the A1 is launched from the centre of the defended area, it is equipped with its own recovery parachute, for safety and reusability purposes.

A1 operators can thus ship their interceptors back to General Astronautics for technical check-ups and warhead refits, generating significantly cost reductions when compared to the purchase of a brand new unit.

There are two A1 interceptor versions. The A1A executes interceptions at extremely low altitudes (100–200m) to combat ground and underground detonations of conventional and nuclear warheads. The A1B executes interceptions at low altitudes (1,000–2,000m) to combat air burst warheads of conventional and nuclear warheads.

The A1A and A1B can work individually or in conjunction, creating a layered defence system.

This option is required by the Defended Area (DA) type featuring underground or surface assets, which determine the incoming missile warhead detonation height, at ground or underground level, or air burst.

Another criterion for choosing between A1 version over a DA is the incoming threat type, conventional or nuclear.

The A1A and A1B interceptors. The A1A, designed to counter ground detonation warheads, has a larger warhead than the A1B, which is designed to counter air burst warheads.

The A1A

The A1A is an extremely low-altitude, anti-ballistic, hypersonic and supersonic missiles interceptor, designed to protect small, high value assets, by deploying a dome, or a high density dome sector, consisting of 10 tons of pellets, chaff and flare, at altitudes of up to 200m, in the path of the incoming targets. The targets are destroyed or diverted through kinetic impact, or by deceiving them with chaff and flare.

The A1A interceptor has the capability to engage incoming MIRV-ed ICBM, SLBM, IRBM, MRBM, RV-ed SRBM, HM and SCM carrying ground detonation warheads, both conventional and nuclear.

The A1B

The A1B is a low-altitude, anti-ballistic, hypersonic and supersonic missiles interceptor, designed to protect small, high value assets, by deploying a dome consisting of 6 tons of pellets, at an altitude of up to 2,000m, in the path of the incoming targets. The targets are destroyed or diverted through kinetic impact, or by deceiving them with chaff and flare.

The A1B interceptor has the capability to engage incoming MIRV-ed ICBM, SLBM, IRBM, MRBM, RV-ed SRBM, and HM carrying carrying nuclear air burst warheads or conventional cluster munition.

IRST detection

The A1 system uses four IRST systems able to easily detect extremely hot temperatures generated by RVs, MIRVs or HMs during their terminal phase, when their structures become extremely hot. This enhances the IRST detection capability.

The four IRST units help compute the target’s altitude and speed, which are ultimately translated into time-to-target (TTT), to be relayed to the command station.

In the next article we are going to talk about the A1 interceptor’s warhead.

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