An OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement / Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation) press release issued today provides additional details:
The OCCAR-EA Director Matteo Bisceglia and the Managing Director of Eurosam Eva Bruxmeier signed the contract for the production of ASTER 30 B1 New Technology, ASTER 30 B1 and ASTER 15 medium range air defence missiles. The contract was signed on behalf of the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) for France and SEGREDIFESA for Italy for the benefit of 5 forces: French Air Force, French Navy, Italian Army, Italian Navy and a new end-user Italian Air Force.
This contract concerns especially the procurement of the new version of ASTER 30 B1 NT to deal with future aerial threats more speedy and manoeuvrable.
This new missile will equip SAMP/T NG of French Air Force, Italian Army and Italian Air Force and HORIZON frigates of the Italian Navy. In addition, this contract takes into account the production of new ASTER 30 B1 for SAMP/T NG for Italian Air Force and new ASTER 30 and ASTER 15 for French and Italian Navy.
This complex contract negotiated by OCCAR reached to a conclusion thanks to a strong involvement of EUROSAM and MBDA, as European missile industrial reference, and great cooperation of Nations. With this new contract, OCCAR reinforces the European missile industry supported by MBDA and by major European actors like Thales, Avio, Roxel, Simmel…
This new contract comes in addition to the contract of the Mid-Life Update of the current ASTER stockpile of France, Italy and United-Kingdom placed in 2020 and 2021. With these contracts, OCCAR will provide to the 3 Nations a renewed capacity of Medium Range Air-Defence, contributing at the same time to the European Air Defence system.
According to a French Ministry of the Armed forces (MoD) press released issued today as well, OCCAR, alongside the French procurement agency (DGA) and the Italian procurement agency (SEGREDIFESA) awarded the contract to EUROSAM (joint company by MBDA and Thales) on 30 December 2022. The contract calls for the production of close to 700 missiles.
“This is one of the largest orders for this surface to air missile, the only European system offering such operational capabilities. This global order will require adaptations to the entire industrial chain in order to meet the challenges of the war economy.”
French MoD press release
According to the French MoD, More than 1,300 missiles have been produced for the three cooperating countries (France, Italy, UK) since the 2000s. In 2021, the three nations decided to perpetuate their in-service missile fleets. In 2022, the United Kingdom has chosen the Aster 30 B1 version for the modernisation of the T45 destroyers’ air defence system, and Greece has also chosen Aster missiles to equip its future FDI frigates.
Naval News comments:
The Aster 30 Block 1 missile previously used only in French and Italian land systems, will help the Royal Navy combat the increasing threats posed by anti-ship ballistic missiles at sea by developing the missile into a maritime variant. The French Navy (Marine Nationale) and Italian Navy (Marina Militare) are also switching to the new missile for their Horizon type air defense destroyers, FREMM frigates and for the Italian PPA Light Plus and PPA Full.
The launch customer and first user of Aster 30 Block 1 “Naval” is the Qatar Emiri Navy aboard its Al Zubarah-class air defense corvettes and future air defense LPD.
About Aster 30 Block 1 missile
Contacted by Naval News, an MBDA source explained that the main differences between legacy Aster 30 and the Block 1 variant are in the seeker software and missile computer software. There are also some minor hardware modifications such as the warhead: It combines a proximity fuse with blast fragmentation warhead. While Aster 30 is limited to “air breathing target” or ABT (such as fast jets, aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship and cruise missiles), Aster 30 Block 1 can intercept both ABT and short range ballistic missiles (Scud class / 600 Km range). The two missiles otherwise share the same range (>120 Km) and speed (Mach 4.5).
Aster 30 Block 1 comes with an RF seeker, direct thrust vector control and brings dual capability: anti-conventional and ballistic missiles.
Aster 30 Block 1 missiles have been in service with French and Italian SAMP/T (land based) systems for several years and have proven successful ballistic missiles engagements.