On 14th November 2006, the third and final qualification firing of the Franco-Italian Aster SAMP/T ground-based air defence system was successfully completed at the French DGA’s CELM (Centre d’Essai de Lancement des Missiles) test facility. The firing paves the way for the system’s operational evaluation by the French and Italian Armed Forces.
For the firing, all components of the Aster SAMP/T weapon system were tested: the Engagement Module, the ARABEL Radar and Identification Module, a Vertical Launch Unit and the ASTER 30 Missile. The objective of the test firing was to prove the ability of the complete system to intercept an aircraft under a typical operational scenario. For this firing, the Aster 30 missile intercepted a C-22 target drone equipped with radar jammer.
The trial was a total success with the complete range of test objectives achieved:
- Acquisition and tracking of the target by the ARABEL radar
- Target engagement by the fire control unit
- Launch of the Aster 30 munition
- Updating of target coordinates to the missile in flight
- In-flight target acquisition by the Aster 30 missile’s seeker
- Final interception of the target at about 10 km from the launcher.
This firing and other system tests performed at the CELM since the beginning of 2005 have demonstrated the exceptional performance of the Aster SAMP/T air defence weapon and the maturity of the system.
This ASTER 30 firing extends a long list of earlier trials successes with the Aster missile family:
- ASTER 30 PAAMS successful firings on 1st June 2005, 12th October 2005 and 23rd May 2006;
- ASTER 30 successful SAMP/T system qualification firings on 26th July 2005 and 20th December 2005;
- Firing of a salvo of two ASTER 15 missiles from the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle on May 25th 2005 continuing the 100% success rate of ASTER 15 naval firings since December 2001.
With this final qualification firing success, SAMP/T will now undergo operational evaluation by the armed forces of both France and Italy. During these acceptance trials, due to be carried out over a period of around 16 months, further firings will be undertaken. In parallel, series production will ramp up. The Aster missile is already in series production.