Signature of the PAAMS Agreement Between France, Italy and the United Kingdom

(Source : French Ministry of Defence; issued March 26, 2002)

(Issued in French only; this is an unofficial translation)

PARIS—The French and Italian Ministers of defense, and the United Kingdom’s state secretary for defense, signed in Saragossa on March 22 an agreement for the production of the PAAMS weapon system and of its munitions.

PAAMS, or Principal Air-to-Air Missile System, is the main weapon system of the Franco-Italian Horizon air-defense frigates and of the British Type 45 destroyers.

The PAAMS system consists of a multifunction radar (Empar or Sampson), automatic command and control system, Sylver vertical launchers and Aster 15 (short-range) and Aster 30 (medium-range) missiles. It is linked to a Long Range Radar for long-range early warning.

Its Aster missiles were developed as part of the Franco-Italian FSAF (Future Surface-to-Air Family of missiles) program, which comprises the SAAM (Surface–Air Anti-Missile) ship self-defense system fitted to the French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and to the Italian Navy’s Andrea Doria aircraft carrier and the SAMP/T (Sol-Air Moyenne Portee/Terrestre) for the medium-range air defense of ground forces and air bases.

The agreement covers the delivery of systems and missiles for seven ships (5 Type 45 destroyers and one Horizon-class frigate each for France and Italy). These vessels will be commissioned between 2006 and 2009 and will remain in service for about 30 years.

An initial contract was awarded in August 1999 on behalf of the three participating countries by the French defense procurement agency, DGA, to Europaams for the development and delivery of one system for the lead ship of the three classes of ship.

Europaams is jointly owned by Eurosam (itself a joint venture between MBDA/France, MBDA/Italy and Thales) with 66%, and UKAMS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MBDA/United Kingdom.

The contract deriving from this agreement, now being drafted, will create permanent ties between participating European companies, and will thus play a major role in structuring them for the future.