France considers delivering ASTER 30 long-range anti-air missiles to Ukraine

During an interview published in La Tribune on Sunday, March 31, 2024, the French Minister of Armed Forces, Sebastien Lecornu, announced that France is prepared to deliver a new batch of 30 Aster 30 surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine. These missiles can be fired by the SAMP/T air defense missile system, which France had previously donated to Ukraine.

The Aster missiles used by the French navy are also utilized by the SAMPT platform developed by Thales. This platform, used by the French and Italian armies, has been in service since the 2000s, and Ukraine has received a SAMPT system equipped with ASTER missiles. France, in its logic of ensuring Ukraine’s ability to support and preserve its territorial integrity and population, focuses its support effort on long-range weapons.

This is why the delivery of missiles and artillery guns is so prominent in the public information domain. Today, Aster missiles are being delivered to supply the unique SAMPT delivered to Ukraine by France (2023). However, it is worth noting that some sources mention the possibility of an additional delivery of this weapon system. France, before this new batch and the start of the bilateral security agreement signed in january 2024, ranks 15th among countries or institutions providing the most aid in value, with a total announced amount of approximately 1.8 billion euros from January 24, 2022, to January 15, 2024. This includes all institutions involved in supporting Ukraine, which received nearly 200 billion euros during this period

SAMP/T (christened MAMBA by the French Air Force) is the cornerstone of Italy and France’s contributions to the North Atlantic Alliance’s tactical ballistic missile defense capability. The French Air Force currently owns 7 MAMBA systems while the Italian Army owns 3 systems.

SAMP/T is a theater anti-missile system designed to protect the battlefield and sensitive tactical sites (such as airports and sea ports) against all current and future airborne threats, including cruise missiles, manned and unmanned aircraft, and tactical ballistic missiles in the 600 km range class.

The Aster missile family comprises Aster 15 for short to medium range and Aster 30for short to long range. There is 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 called “PIF-PAF”, the missile is capable of high maneuvers. Together, these features give Aster an unmatched hit-to-kill capability.

Weighing 310 kilos, the Aster 15 is propelled at a speed exceeding Mach 3 (>900m/s) and can destroy any flying object within a distance of about 30 kilometers. Its counterpart, the Aster 30 Block 1 NT, is about 70cm longer, allowing it to increase its firing range to about 100km, and equipped with a new propulsion block that slightly increases its speed compared to its counterpart.

Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles are vertically launched and autonomously guided to provide the best means of coping with saturating attacks. Due to very short missile preparation time and very high speed, the Aster weapon system has a very quick engagement capability. Aster 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 missile naval air defense systems are also in service with several other navies around the world.

Aster 15 missiles are integrated with different types of multi-function radars and C2 in the SAAM system (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 systems (Type 45 destroyers, Horizon, and Orizzonte frigates). If one were to compare the technology to an air-to-air vector, it would be the equivalent of a Fox 3, the missile uses an active radar to autonomously target the object to be destroyed.

The ASTER 15 and the ASTER 30 in their latest evolution, now the only one produced, the Aster 30 Block 1 NT (new technology) equip the Mamba systems, and the Naval Systems, and provide the European Union with its first anti-ballistic missile and anti-drone solution.

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