Aster Anti-Air Missile

Aster Anti-Air Missile

The Aster missile series, primarily comprising the Aster 15 and Aster 30 are a family of Franco-Italian vertically launched surface-to-air missiles. The name “Aster” stands for ” Aérospatiale Terminale ” (French company Aérospatiale being the original lead contractor before becoming MBDA) and from the mythical Greek archer named Asterion (in Greek mythology), Asterion likewise receiving his name from the ancient Greek word aster (Greek: ἀστήρ), 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.

Aster is primarily operated by France, Italy, and the United Kingdom as an export customer, and is an integrated component of the PAAMS air-defence missile system, known in the Royal Navy as Sea Viper. As the principal weapon of the PAAMS system, Aster equips the Horizon class frigates and the British Type 45 destroyers. Aster also equips the French and Italian FREMM multipurpose frigates, though are not using the PAAMS air-defense suite itself but through Franco-Italian specific declinations of this suite.

Characteristics

There are currently two versions of the Aster missile family, the short-medium range version, Aster 15, and the long range version, Aster 30. The missile bodies are identical; their difference in range and intercept speed is because Aster 30 uses a much larger booster. Total weights of the Aster 15 and Aster 30 are 310 kg and 450 kg respectively. Aster 15 has a length of 4.2 meters, rising to just under 5 meters for Aster 30. Aster 15 has a diameter of 180mm. Given the larger dimensions of the Aster 30, a naval based system requires the longer tubes of the Sylver A50 or A70 vertical launching system (VLS). Additionally the American Mark 41 Vertical Launching System can accommodate Aster 30.

Variants

  • Aster 15 – Ship point and local area defence
  • Aster 30 Block 0 – Ship local and wide area defence
  • Aster 30 Block 1NT (New Technology) – wide area defence capable against 1500 km-range ballistic missiles
  • Aster 30 Block 2 BMD currently being developed for anti-ballistic defense against 3000 km-range maneuvering missiles.

Block 1 is used in the Eurosam SAMP/T system operated by the French Air Force and the Italian Army. As of 2014, the development of Block 1NT is being funded by France and Italy. In 2016, the United Kingdom showed interest in acquiring the Block 1NT version for its Type 45 Destroyers.

Land systems

Aster 30 has been successfully incorporated into a land based SAM system, fulfilling the “Ground-based area defence” mission requirement. It comes in the form of the Eurosam SAMP/T (Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain). The system uses a network of sophisticated radars and sensors – including 3D phased array radar – enabling it to be highly effective against all types of air threats. SAMP/T uses an upgraded version of the Arabel long range radar, with improved performance developed under the Aster 30 block 1 upgrade program, in order to extend the system’s capability against higher speed targets and higher altitude targets. The system can intercept missiles with a 600 km range (short range ballistic missile targets).

Specifications

Mass Aster 15: 310 kg
Aster 30: 450 kg
Length Aster 15: 4.2 m
Aster 30: 4.9 m
Diameter Aster 15: 180 mm
Warhead Directed fragmentation.
Detonation
mechanism
Direct contact or proximity.

Engine Solid propellant two-stage rocket.
Operational
range
Aster 15: 1.7–30+ km
Aster 30: 3–120 km
Flight altitude Aster 15: 0–13 km
Aster 30: 0–20 km
Maximum speed Aster 15: Mach 3.5 (1,191 m/s)
Aster 30: Mach 4.5 (1,531 m/s)
Guidance
system
– Inertial guidance with up-link
– Active RF seeker
Launch
platform
– Maritime platforms.
– Land based platforms.

Operators

Related Armament

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