The Italian government is formally participating in the MBDA Aster 30 Block 1 New Technology (B1NT) surface-to-air missile (SAM) program in collaboration with France.
In its official press release, MBDA states that an amendment was made to the Aster 30 B1NT program on 20 December 2016 outlining Italy’s willingness to participate in the program.
This was a follow-on to the Agreement of Cooperation, which was signed by the defence ministers of France and Italy in June 2016, to set “the framework of responsibilities and rights of the two countries vis-a-vis the missile to be developed in cooperation, and its multiple applications in land and naval defence systems against air attacks and ballistic missiles.”
The MBDA Aster 30 B1NT is an evolution of the Aster 30 Block 1, a long-range SAM system introduced in 1988 by France and Italy. With a range of over 100 km, the Aster 30 can be deployed from naval surface warships and land, with the latter designated as the SAMP/T.
In comparison to its predecessor, the Aster 30 B1NT will utilize a Ka-band active radar-homing seeker with a substantially higher operating frequency (in contrast to the Block 1’s Ku-band seeker). This new seeker will provide the B1NT with a longer terminal-stage engagement range and increased angular resolution. In turn, the B1NT will be able to independently engage its targets sooner and with higher accuracy.
Notes & Comments:
The MBDA Aster 30 is a key piece to France and Italy’s anti-ballistic missile (ABM) efforts, and the B1NT is being positioned as the basis for addressing the threat of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM).
Recently, the Aster 30 has seen adoption outside of Europe, most notably by Qatar, which ordered the Aster 30 Block 1 for its forthcoming corvettes (ordered from Italy’s Fincantieri). Turkey is also reportedly in talks for the SAMP/T system, potentially with co-production and transfer-of-technology benefits.
MBDA could potentially leverage the B1NT to build upon these fronts, be it in terms of expanding Qatar’s order (by citing the ballistic missile threat from Iran) or securing a sale to Turkey, which has sought its own ABM and long-range air defence umbrella.