Italy has confirmed its participation in development of the new Block 1 NT (new technology) version of the Aster ground-based air-defence missile. The B1NT programme also includes modernisation of the SAMP/T systems currently in service with the French Air Force and the Italian Army. The systems will acquire enhanced capabilities, particularly against ballistic missiles.
OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) officially awarded Eurosam (MBDA/Thales) the so-called amendment 1 of the contract for the B1NT programme on 20th December. This amendment covers the participation of Italy in the programme. It follows the initial contract award under French mandate in December 2015, and the Arrangement of Cooperation, signed in June 2016 by the French and Italian Defence Ministers, laying down the framework of responsibilities and rights of the two countries vis-a-vis the missile to be developed in cooperation, and its applications in land and naval defence systems against air attacks and ballistic missiles.
Aster 30 Block 1 NT development takes into account the key dual requirement (same missile for ground and naval Aster systems), including the necessary adjustments to allow the missile to be fired from warships. Italy plans to use the Aster 30 Block 1 NT from its future class of PPA (Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura) offshore patrol vessels.
MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier said the Block 1 NT would be able to deal with more complex threats than the Block 1 version, including the emerging threat of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs).