In addition to an upgrade of the Aster 30 Block I’s electronics, the Block 1 NT programme includes modernisation of the SAMP/T ground based system currently in French service, to cater for availability of the new missile from 2023.
Both systems will then provide enhanced capabilities, particularly against ballistic missile threats. The Royal Navy is also considering the Aster Block 1 NT to arm its destroyers.
Aster systems play an active role in NATO’s ALTBMD (Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence) in defending allied forces against ballistic threats and, as such, represent a major Franco-Italian contribution to this programme.
To date, 1,600 Aster missiles have been ordered by 11 armed forces customers around the world and Aster-based systems are demonstrating daily their interoperability with the air defence networks of these forces and with those of NATO. The Aster systems of Italy’s Orrizonte frigates took part in establishing the no fly zone over Libya which was put in place by the UN in 2011. The Italian Army’s SAMP/T systems are currently being deployed in Turkey in the NATO Support to Turkey initiative to protect the country from the potential ballistic missile threat emanating from Syria.
The Aster missile series, primarily comprising the Aster 15 and Aster 30 are a family of vertically launched surface-to-air missiles. The name “Aster” originates from the mythical Greek archer named Asterion , Asterion likewise receiving his name from the ancient Greek word aster, meaning “star”. Aster is manufactured by Eurosam, a European consortium consisting of MBDA France, MBDA Italy (combined 66%) and the Thales Group (33%).
The missile is designed to intercept and destroy a wide range of air threats, such as supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles at very low altitude (Sea-skimming) and fast flying, high performance aircraft or missiles.