MBDA’s SAAM-FR naval air defence system successfully carries out first salvo firing

(Issued on 25th May 2005 by MBDA)

On May 25th 2005, a first salvo firing of two Aster 15 missiles was successfully carried out from the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle during a training exercise off the eastern coast of North America.

This test firing, carried out by the French Navy during a combined Franco-American training exercise, is the latest validation of the SAAM-FR (Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile) self and local naval air defence system in service on the Charles de Gaulle since 2002.

The aim of the test was to prove the ability of the SAAM-FR system to engage a high sub-sonic anti-ship missile using a salvo of two Aster 15 missiles. Both Aster 15 missiles, each armed with a live warhead, registered a direct hit and fully met all the objectives of the test. These direct hits are further proof of the exceptional accuracy of the SAAM-FR system.

The conclusion of this latest test firing adds to the 100% success rate already registered by the SAAM naval system, adding to successful tests already carried out from the Charles de Gaulle and from the three SAWARI II frigates of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces during 2004.

Regarding the salvo firing, Marwan Lahoud, Chief Executive Officer of MBDA said: « MBDA is proud to be able to give yet another demonstration of the technical excellence of its missile systems. Navies equipped with Aster missile » based systems will benefit from an air defence system featuring the most advanced performance and capability of any comparable system in the world.

Background information

Under this FSAF programme, France and Italy agreed to develop and produce a family of ground and naval air defence systems for the armed forces of both countries. The naval version is the SAAM point and local defence system using the Aster 15 vertical launch missile. This provides a highly effective, omni-directional defence against a wide range of threats.

SAAM is the only missile system in the world capable of extending self-defence to the protection of neighbouring ships within a few kilometres of the launch ship against all types of aircraft and sea-skimming, anti-ship, missiles. SAAM is being developed under the leadership of MBDA as prime contractor.

Comprising a multi-function radar, a command and control unit (C2) and a SYLVER launcher housing the ASTER 15 missiles, the French and Italian SAAM variants are identical apart from their fire control radar systems. In the case of the French system this is the ARABEL system supplied by Thalès while the Italian variant employs the EMPAR system supplied by AMS.

The first successful firing of the SAAM system took place in 1999. In December 2001, the French Navy took delivery of the SAAM system for the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier from which a complete system test firing was successfully carried out in October 2002. Qualification of the Italian variant of the SAAM system was completed in December 2002 with the system due to be installed on the Italian Navy s new generation aircraft carrier Conte di Cavour.

In November 2003, OCCAR, the European procurement agency, signed a contract which included the full series production of the ASTER 15 missiles under the Franco-Italian SAAM programme.

Note to editors:

With an annual turnover exceeding 3 billion euros, a forward order book of over 13 billion euros, and over 70 customers world wide, MBDA is a world leading, global missile systems company. MBDA currently has 45 missile system and countermeasure programmes in operational service and has proven its ability as prime contractor to head major multi-national projects.

MBDA is jointly owned by BAE SYSTEMS (37.5%), EADS (37.5%) and FINMECCANICA (25%).