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Europe conducts first-ever ballistic missile interceptor test

The Aster 30 Block 1 missile successfuly hit a medium-range theatre ballistic missile target. An MBDA photo

PARIS (BNS): Europe has conducted first-ever ballistic missile interceptor test with an Aster missile system successfully intercepting a medium-range theatre ballistic missile target.

The test, involving an Aster 30 Block 1 missile, the SAMP/T system and its ARABEL radar, was carried out by the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) in the Landes region of France on October 18.

The target used for the firing was representative of a medium-range ballistic missile.

All the successive phases of the operational engagement of a ballistic missile ran nominally: The target was intercepted at the intended range, Eurosam, a joint concern of MBDA and Thales and prime contractor for the SAMP/T surface-to-air defence system, said.

The Aster 30 Block 1 variant has been designed for the French Air Force’s Mamba medium range air defence system, also called the SAMP-T, and optimised for the interception of aerial as well as ballistic threats.

The missile is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles having a range of 600 kms.

The SAMP-T (soil-air medium-range terrestrial) is the first European system with this capability, according to the French DGA.

A Franco-Italian programme, the SAMP-T is also capable of providing air defense against medium-range conventional threats such as aircraft, cruise missiles, UAVs. The system has already been qualified since 2008.

The system may be implemented by the NATO programme of defence against theater ballistic missiles ALTBMD (active layered theater ballistic missile defense), the DGA said.

MBDA, which manufactures the Aster missile systems, said incremental evolutions of the Aster 30 Block 1 missile have already been proposed to counter the proliferating and growing global ballistic threat. These evolutions will be transferable to all systems currently deploying Aster 30.

The Aster family of missiles also constitute of the Aster 15 and Aster 30 variants. These missile systems are operational in ground or naval configurations for missions associated with the self-defence of aircraft carriers, self, local and fleet area defence when deployed from frigates and destroyers, ground-based area defence as well as the anti-air protection of deployed and projected forces.

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