MBDA press release
The contracts were signed by Admiral Aristeidis Alexopoulos, General Director for Defence Investments and Armaments of the Greek Ministry of National Defence, and Eric Béranger, CEO of MBDA at a meeting in Athens.
“These new signatures continue our long-lasting relationship with Greece. The first customer of our Exocet missile in 1968, we have been working closely together ever since. These new contracts for two weapons packages for the navy and the air force demonstrate our mutual trust, which has been regularly renewed over the years.”
Eric Béranger, CEO of MBDA
The second contract will supply weaponry for six additional Rafale combat aircraft. This follows on from the contract signed in January 2021 for the weaponry for 18 Rafale aircraft. The additional six aircraft will be equipped with the same weapons package: the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, the SCALP cruise missile, the MICA multi-mission air-to-air missile, and the AM39 Exocet anti-ship missile.
Companies in the Greek defence industry will be involved in the realization of these contracts, as well as in the missiles’ follow-on support phase.
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About Exocet MM40 Block 3C
Compared to the existing Block 3, the “Block 3c” variant brings to the Exocet a new digital RF seeker by Thales. The “c” stands for coherent. The most important benefit of Coherent Radar Processing is the ability to differentiate relatively small differences in velocity (which correspond to small differences in phase). This coherent target processing technology offers Doppler resolution/estimation and provides less interference and signal/noise benefits relative to non-coherent processing.
Basically, the new MM40 Block 3c will be more resistant to the latest jamming systems and is will probably (“on paper” at least) even be able to recognize surface vessels, thanks to the use of advanced wave forms: This means that the new seeker will potentially be able to recognize a targeted ship within a group of ships and impact specific areas of that target. This is already achieved with modern anti-ship missiles such as the LRASM and NSM, but both of these use infra-red seekers.
While the Block 3 upgrade of the Exocet brought a longer range (200 Km) thanks to a turbojet engine and the ability to strike coastal targets, thanks to GPS navigation, it used the same RF seeker as the Block 2: A 30+ years old technology that wasn’t digital.
Similar upgrades on the AM39 air to surface variant and SM39 submarine-launched variant are expected to follow. These two missiles have already received a digitization upgrade of their systems bringing them to the AM39 Block2 Mod2 standard for the Rafale F3 and to the SM39 Block2 Mod2 standard for the Suffren-class (Barracuda SSN program). The Coherent seeker upgrade will likely bring both missiles to the Block 3 or Block2 Mod3 standard.
MM40 Block 3 basic specifications:
• Weight: 780 kg
• Length: less than 6 m
• Speed: high subsonic
• Range: 200 km class effective operational range
• Missions: Anti-ship as well as littoral operations and coastal land attack capability
About ASTER missiles
The ASTER missile family comprises ASTER 15 for short to medium range and ASTER 30 for short to long-range. There is an extensive commonality between the two variants with both missiles featuring the same terminal dart.
ASTER’s terminal dart is a lightweight, highly maneuvering and agile missile equipped with a high-performance active RF seeker. Thanks to the unique combination of aerodynamic control and direct thrust vector control (PIF-PAF), the missile is capable of high G maneuvers. Together, these features give ASTER an unmatched hit-to-kill capability.
ASTER missiles provide ships with an all-around anti-missile and anti-air capability to ensure self-defense and consort protection. In addition, ASTER 30 also provides long-range interception capability
for area defense. For extended air defense with ATBM protection, the family also includes ASTER 30 B1 and ASTER Block 1 NT.
Both the ASTER 15 and the ASTER 30 missiles are vertically launched and autonomously guided to provide the best means of coping with saturating attacks. Due to the very short missile preparation time and very high speed, the ASTER weapon system has a very quick engagement capability.
ASTER 15 and ASTER 30 missiles are in service on the latest vessels brought into service by three of Europe’s major navies: Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. ASTER 15 missiles are integrated with
different types of multi-function radars and C2 in the SAAM system (the Charles de Gaulle and Conte di Cavour aircraft carriers).
ASTER 15 and ASTER 30 missiles are integrated with different types of multi-function radars and C2 in the PAAMS system (on the Type 45 destroyer where the system is known as Sea Viper, and on
Horizon and Orizzonte frigates) and with the French and Italian FREMM frigates.
Naval air defence systems deploying ASTER missiles are also in service with several other navies around the world.
- Weight: ASTER 30 – 430 kg / ASTER 15 – 310 kg
- Length: ASTER 30 – 4.9 m / ASTER 15 – 4.2 m
- Diameter: ASTER 15 and 30 – 180 mm
- Range: ASTER 30 – In excess of 120 km / ASTER 15 – In excess of 30 km
- Altitude: ASTER 30 – 20 km / ASTER 15 – 13 km
- Maximum speed: ASTER 30 – Mach 4.5 / ASTER 15 – Mach 3
- Propulsion: Solid propellant, two-stage motor