Italy and France Reinforce Industrial Cooperation for the Aster Program
(Source: joint statement by the French and Italian MoDs; issued June 14, 2016)
(Issued in Italian and French; unofficial translation by
The Aster 30 medium-range air-defense missile, as well as the entire SAMP/T system, will be substantially upgraded under the B1NT program, with a special emphasis on anti-tactical ballistic missile capabilities. (MBDA photo)
PARIS --- The Italian Minister of Defense, Roberta Pinotti, and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian today signed a cooperation agreement that reinforces the partnership between the two countries. This agreement aims to begin the joint development of a new version of the Aster weapon system, the so-called "Block 1 Nouvelle Technologie” (B1NT).

The Aster program is supervised by the Secretariat-General of Defense (SGD) for Italy and by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) for France, with the joint support of the Organization for Cooperation in Armaments (OCCAR).

Launched last December, the B1NT program includes, in addition to improvements to the Aster missile, the modernization of the SAMP / T anti-air systems currently fielded by the Italian Army and French Air Force. When completed, these new developments will lead to a greater capability against anti-ballistic missiles, and will provide an essential contribution to NATO.

Through this new agreement, Italy and France renew their commitment and their long-standing cooperation for air defense systems based on ASTER system. This decision testifies to their common determination to maintain the capabilities of the SAMP / T system and of its Aster missile, maintaining its capabilities in line with the highest requirements, and its ability to respond to the evolution of all air threats. It also helps to consolidate the industrial cooperation between Thales and MBDA within the Eurosam consortium, in a European industrial logic that is also export-oriented.

This new stage is a crucial moment for the Aster weapon system, which is also used by the naval air defense systems for which the United Kingdom, France and Italy have been partners for more than twenty years.

The three countries have once again reaffirmed this cooperation through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 11 December 2015.


France and Italy Join Together to Develop Aster 30 Block 1 NT
(Source: MBDA; issued June 14, 2016)
Today in Paris, the Italian Minister of Defence, Roberta Pinotti, and the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, signed a ‘Cooperation Arrangement’ agreement which aims to pursue the joint development of the Aster 30 Block 1 NT missile. With this agreement, Italy is joining with France who launched the development programme in December 2015.

The Aster 30 Block 1 NT programme comprises, in addition to the upgrade of the Aster missile, the modernization of the SAMP/T systems currently in service with the French Air Force and the Italian Army. These systems as a result will see themselves featuring enhanced capabilities notably against ballistic missiles and thereby making essential contributions to the NATO programme in this domain.

Italian defense minister Roberta Pinotti (left) and her French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian after signing the Aster B1NT agreement in Paris. (IT MoD photo)

Commenting on this event, Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA, declared: “Today marks a very important date for European defence cooperation and for MBDA in particular. The Aster missile programme is Europe’s most ambitious tactical missile programme. The two countries, which have carried out this programme for many years, have just laid out a robust route map that will see the Aster programme well into the next decade, which will help to sustain industrial know how for many years to come and which is key to ensuring French and Italian sovereignty. Aster is in fact much more than a missile.

“It is a whole family of air defence and anti-missile systems which has been adopted by 11 armed forces around the world. Aster represents the leading edge of worldwide military capability and as such serves to consolidate the European missile industry.”.


Launched in 1988 by France and Italy, the Aster family (known also as FSAF – Future Surface-to-Air Family) exists as a ground based air and anti-missile defence system in service with the Italian Army and the French Air Force. It is also deployed in its naval version for the self defence of the French and Italian Navies aircraft carriers and provides the self, local and fleet area defence capability on British, French and Italian frigates and destroyers.

The Aster 30 Block 1 NT programme, which has just been agreed by France and Italy, comprises an evolution in the electronics of the Aster 30 Block 1 missile as well as an adaptation of the SAMP/T ground based systems to take into account the new missile which will be available as of 2023. The UK, which deploys Aster missiles on its Type 45 destroyers, declared during the Franco-British summit held in Amiens in March 2016, that it is considering the Aster Block 1 NT for its destroyers. (Emphasis added—Ed.)

Aster systems play an active role in NATO’s ALTBMD (Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence) in defending allied forces against ballistic threats and, as such, represent a major Franco-Italian contribution to this programme.

To date, 1,600 Aster missiles have been ordered by 11 armed forces customers around the world and Aster-based systems are demonstrating daily their interoperability with the air defence networks of these forces and with those of NATO. The Aster systems of Italy’s Orrizonte frigates took part in establishing the no fly zone over Libya which was put in place by the UN in 2011.

The Italian Army’s SAMP/T systems are currently being deployed in Turkey in the NATO Support to Turkey initiative to protect the country from the potential ballistic missile threat emanating from Syria.

With a significant presence in five European countries and within the USA, MBDA in 2015 achieved a turnover of € 2.9 billion with an order book of € 15.1 billion. With more than 90 armed forces customers in the world, MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems. MBDA is owned jointly by Airbus Group (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%), and Leonardo-Finmeccanica (25%).

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Italian Army in early June deployed a SAMP/T battery to Kahramanras province, near Turkey’s border with Syria, to replace a German Patriot battery as part of NATO’s Operation Active Phoenix.
This deployment is seen as having some marketing significance as it will allow Turkey to take a close look at the operations of one of the systems competing for its medium-range air-defense requirement, and for which it had originally selected a Chinese-made missile.
A second SAMP/T battery is due to follow later this year.)

Italy Joins the “Block 1 New Technology” Program (B1NT) Launched in December 2015 by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA)
(Source: Thales; issued June 14, 2016)
Thales welcomes the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between French and Italian authorities to join the “B1NT” modernisation programme. It was signed today by Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence and Roberta Pinotti, Italian Minister of Defence This programme will provide new capabilities for air and ballistic missile defence to the SAMP/T system.

The agreement extends a long lasting cooperation between the nations and between the industries involved in the development, the production and the support of the system.

In continuity with the on-going national contract underway in France, Thales will deliver, in cooperation with the Italian industry, a new version of the fire control function and will develop a new missile seeker. Based on the most advanced concept of open architecture, this new fire control function ensures durability and will provide the SAMP/T with a very high level of performance, operational availability and flexibility to take into account the evolution of air and ballistic threats.

The SAMP/T antimissile defence system is capable of dealing with all types of airborne threats, and contributes not only to the protection of territory, but also to the protection of forces during external operations. A 360° cover is ensured with regards to engagement and detection and the system can follow 100 paths, with 10 being engaged simultaneously.

This signature confirms Thales’s role as a systems integrator in advanced air defence.


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