Updated Background Paper on SAAM Program

Background : Franco-Italian Co-Operation On Aster

PARIS—The Aster 15 Naval missile is produced under a co-operative venture between the French company Aerospatiale Matra Missiles (AMM) and the British/Italian company, Alenia Marconi Systems (AMS). The two companies are soon to be united as part of MBDA, the new European missiles company now being set up.

The SAAM/FR and SAAM/IT programmes are managed by Eurosam, a joint venture bringing together the skills of AMM, AMS and Thales.

A Unifying Force For MBDA (in formation)

The Aster family of surface-to-air missiles is one of three programmes around which the new MBDA company is being formed (the other two being the air-to-ground Storm Shadow/SCALP and air-to-air Meteor missiles).

In practical terms, Aster brings together all three founding MBDA countries (France, Italy and the UK) and already involves joint working between the three companies concerned: Aerospatiale Matra Missiles (AMM), Alenia Marconi Systems (AMS) and Matra BAe Dynamics (MBD).

MBDA is a new guided weapons company, formed as a result of the merger between three companies of different nationalities: Matra BAE Dynamics, Aerospatiale Matra Missiles and Alenia Marconi Systems.

Matra BAe Dynamics is owned half-and-half by the UK-based BAE Systems and EADS. Aerospatiale Matra Missiles is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), whilst Alenia Marconi Systems is owned in equal parts by the Italian group, Finmeccanica, and BAE Systems.

After the merger (currently in progress), MBDA will be owned 37.5% by BAE Systems, 37.5% by EADS and 25% by Finmeccanica.

This merger will result in the world’s second largest missile systems company, with an annual turnover of 4 billion dollars and a consolidated order book worth over 20 billion dollars. MBDA will be the only company in the world capable of responding to the guided weapons requirements of all three armies.

The Characteristics of the Aster 15 Naval Missile

The Aster 15 Naval antimissile and anti-aircraft missile is a hypervelocity hit-to-kill missile from an entirely new generation.

The Aster 15 Naval is the first Western surface-to-air missile to use:

— an active electromagnetic seeker,
— a two-stage configuration, the first of which is a booster stage, whilst the second, « dart »-shaped terminal stage or « kill-vehicle » is lightweight and super-manoeuvrable,
— the highly advanced technology of the PIF-PAF guidance system (a direct thrust control system acting at the kill-vehicle’s centre of gravity) gives the Aster missile maximum agility and increases manoeuvrability against moving targets by an order of magnitude.

The Aster 15 Naval fulfils the SAAM (Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile) mission for naval warship self-defence and close protection of neighbouring vessels.

The Aster 15 Naval provides defence against a very wide range of present and future threats:

–subsonic and supersonic sea-skimming anti-ship missiles,
–all other types of tactical missile: air-to-surface, antiradar, cruise missiles , etc.
–all modern aircraft types: combat, surveillance, jamming, helicopters, UAVs, etc.

with the ability to combat saturation multi-directional attack in a context of severe electronic counter-measures.

The Aster 15 Naval considerably extends the naval self-defence mission by going further than today’s Point Defence Missile Systems (PDMS) by:

— maximising defence against sea-skimming anti-ship missiles thanks to its « hit-to-kill » capability,
— enlarging the envelope of protection around the missile carrier ship with a range of up to 30 kilometres and up to 15,000 metres altitude,
— enlarging the protected naval area, enabling the simultaneous « self-defence » of the ship carrying the Aster 15 Naval and the « close protection » of neighbouring vessels within several kilometres of the missile carrier ship. This ability was confirmed on 23 May 1997 by a direct hit on a sea-skimming anti-ship missile attacking a vessel near the launch ship.