Air Defense: Aster Chases Aegis And Patriot


December 2, 2010: France has successfully tested an Aster 30 anti-aircraft missile shooting down a SCUD class (600 kilometer range) ballistic missile. The Aster 30 already operates on warships in several nations. There is also a land based version, in which a battery consists of eight vehicles (one for command, another for the phased array radar, and six firing units, each carrying an eight cell canister for storing and firing the half-ton missiles.) Additional trucks carry reload missiles and other equipment. The radar has a range of 100 kilometers.

Like the similar U.S. Patriot system, Aster 30 was originally designed to knock down short range ballistic missiles, and low flying cruise missiles. The system is highly automated, requiring only two people to operate it. Each launcher can fire all eight of its missiles in ten seconds, and the control system can track a hundred targets simultaneously, and control sixteen missiles simultaneously. Targets as low as 50 meters (150 feet), or as high as 20 kilometers (60,000 feet) can be detected and hit. The max range of the missiles, at high altitude targets (like incoming ballistic missiles) is 100 kilometers. At low altitude (under 10,000 feet), max range is 50 kilometers. France has ordered twelve batteries of the ground based version (SAMP/T), while Italy has ordered six. The French army and air force (each are getting six batteries) conducted the test firings to prove that the anti-missile capability worked.



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