On Monday, September 20, 2010, the air defense artillery squadron (EDSA) of Luxeuil Air Base took delivery of the first section of the Mamba medium range surface-to-air missile, also known as the Sol-Air Moyenne Portée Terrestre (SAMP-T).
A ceremony chaired by General Hugues Hendel, commander of the Air Force, will mark this unique event which was eagerly awaited by airmen of the EDSA squadron. They were trained on the SAMP-T in 2009, at the training center for air defense artillery (CFDSA) on Avord air force base, and thus will be the first to operate this new medium-range air defense system, considered as the most powerful in its class.
SAMP-T is designed to protect a point or an area against all threats, including tactical ballistic missiles within a radius of several tens of kilometers. It is capable of firing in bursts and can simultaneously manage up to engagements.
Developed jointly by France and Italy through the Eurosam joint venture company, the system achieved its first firing test in July 2008 on the Biscarosse (Landes) firing range.
This delivery is the first concrete step in the reorganization and modernization of France’s air-defense forces, decided by the Chief of Defence Staff in 2006.
Medium- and short-range air-defence weapon systems of are now operated by the Air Force systems, while very short-range systems are operated by the Army.
The arrival of the SAMP-T Mamba coincides with the transfer of tripod-mounted Mistral to the Army, and the decommissioning of Aspic end first-generation Crotale missiles.
Ultimately, ten sections of SAMP-T missiles will gradually re-equip the air force’s five air-defence squadrons, based at Mont-de-Marsan, Saint-Dizier, Avord, Istres and Luxeuil.