The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) has signed a contract with the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium, co-owned by MBDA and Thales, to refurbish 1,000 Aster missiles owned by the UK Royal Navy and Italian Army and Navy.
Work on the 1.2 billion euro ($1.42 billion) contract will begin in 2023 and is expected to be complete within thirteen years, an OCCAR statement revealed.
The contract follows one signed for the refurbishment of French Aster missiles in January 2020, Eurosam stated.
The refurbishment work will be carried out at locations in the UK and Italy.
OCCAR contracts EUROSAM for Mid-Life Refurbishment of ASTER missiles for Italy and United-Kingdom. It follows the one signed in 01-2020 for the French ASTER missiles https://t.co/SvTnLYRvsW#eurosam #AirDefense #SAMPT #missile @byMBDA @ThalesDefence @DGA @Armee_de_lair @Esercito pic.twitter.com/PoPxZDYwlv
— Eurosam (@by_eurosam) July 13, 2021
MBDA’s Aster is a surface-to-air missile used in air defense systems by Italy, France, and the UK. Outside of Europe, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, and Algeria also use the system.
Aster comes in two variants: the Aster 15 for short-to-medium range air defense, and the Aster 30, for short-to-long range air defense.
Aster can be installed on vessels and in ground-based locations. The naval version is used by France, Italy, and the UK. France and Italy also use the missiles for their land-based air defense system, according to Eurosam.
The Aster air defense system provides 360-degree protection for an area spanning 15,000 square kilometers (5,791 square miles), according to Eurosam. The system can neutralize a target as far as 50 kilometers (31 miles), horizontally, and 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) vertically.
France and Italy have ordered an upgraded version of the system. It will be delivered by 2025.
The upgraded system will feature “a new 360° multifunction radar fitted with a rotating Active Electronically Scanned Array Antenna and an enhanced missile: the Aster Block 1 NT with a new seeker and new computer able to face the new emerging threats,” the statement noted.
The improved version will extend the system’s radar detection range to over 300 kilometers (186 miles) with an intercept range of 150 kilometers (93 miles).