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British officials at a summit last March said that the Royal Navy is considering arming its destroyers with the new Aster missile version, dubbed Aster 30 Block 1NT.

The missile, a wide area defence missile capable against 1500 km-range ballistic missiles, was again discussed at a recent defence industry panel in Glasgow.

At the UK-France Security Summit, the two nations pledged to work jointly on complex weapons. According to a joint statement:

“We are fully supporting the long term strategy to jointly deliver effective military equipment in the most efficient manner while minimising national constraints and strengthening our common defence technological and industrial base.

In support of this, Defence Ministers signed in September 2015 an Inter-Governmental Agreement enabling full implementation of Centres of Excellence into MBDA, a key step towards creating inter-dependence between us around key missile technologies.

We also intend to develop in 2016 a portfolio approach to strengthen our industrial links and jointly address the current and future operational requirements of our forces. In that respect, France is for instance considering Brimstone 2 for next standard of Tiger combat helicopter and the United Kingdom is considering the Aster Block 1NT for equipping its T45 Destroyers.”

The programme also aims to “extend the range to hit incoming ballistic missiles”.

At the start of the year, Italy also joined the ‘Aster 30 Block 1NT’ programme.

MBDA said in a press release:

“This amendment embodies the participation of Italy in the programme. The B1NT programme includes the development by MBDA of the new version Block 1 NT (New Technology) of the Aster missile but also the modernisation of SAMP/T systems currently in service with the French Air Force and the Italian Army.

These systems will thus acquire enhanced capabilities, particularly against ballistic missiles, constituting an essential contribution for both countries to the NATO programme in this area.”

Speaking about the event, MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier, stated:

“The Italian notification strengthens the Aster programme well beyond the financial and technological contribution. Once again, cooperation in Europe adds up to far more than the sum of its parts. After the current Aster 30 Block 1, which gave Europe its first defence capability against theatre ballistic missiles, the Aster 30 Block 1 NT will allow to extend this capability to more complex threats and will also deal with the emerging threat of Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBM).”

Italy has in fact expressed its desire to use the Aster 30 Block 1 NT from its future class of offshore patrol vessels, an interesting development.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Had they gone with the Mk41/Standard missile package from the start then the Royal Navy could have had SM-3s by now.

    • They wouldn’t want SM3. The only reason for MK41 for the Royal Navy, is Tomahawk and future anti-ship missiles.

      • It looks like the SM-3 Block IIA & B anti-ballistic missiles, with speeds up to Mach 15, are currently the best option for defence against the Hypersonic Ballistic Missiles currently being developed by Russia, China and India. Consequently, the need to install MK 41 launchers in the Type 45’s is absolutely essential in order to be able to launch SM-3’s to protect the QE Class carriers.

  2. Possibly of relevance is the successful at sea demonstration 15 in a Joint Warrior of the successful tracking and intereception of high altitude and surface skimming missiles:

    http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2015/november/03/151103-successful-completion-of-at-sea-demo

    Next I daresay we’ll be seeing the testing and deployment of anti-missile missile missiles and, of course, anti-missile missile missile missiles. Oh, we’ve been there before. In a decade it’ll be back to 16 inch guns.

    • Mmm, or of course close-in broadsides, grappling hooks and hand to hand combat. Where’s my trusty cutlass?

    • Surely that was a Typo error, didn’t you mean “16 inch Rail Guns” ? Remember, many true words are spoken in jest!

  3. Hmmmmm…. so could this explain the total silence from HMG on fitting of Mk41 VLS? To me, we have to maximise usage of all available platforms as we no longer have the hull numbers to afford the luxury of ‘dedicated’ platforms to AAW or ASW. I am not educated enough on the Aster 1NT – can it be siloed in the existing VLS onboard our Type 45s? I am thinking not due to due to the extended range; probably much bigger than the standard Aster 30.

    I agree with Joe; Mk41 would have been – and still is – the way to go.

    • Aster 30NT is as far as I am aware not compatible with Sylver A50 which is fitted to the Type 45. It is compatable with Sylver A70. So if we do equip the Type 45s with Aster 30NT then it mean we are going to be needing new VLS cells to house them. Stands to reason we will choose MK41 as it is also compatable with Tomahawk and LASRM. Type 45s have space ready for 2 x 8 cell MK41 and a scheduled to have big holes cut in them in the next few years so the time is right to exploit this oportunity. 16 MK41 cells and the associated fire control systems and computer software work out at around £25 million per ship. We are already spending around £600 million to fix the propulsion issues, may as well make it £750 million and get properly armed and engined destroyers at the end.

      • Is the Aster 30NT being designed to be compatible with both Sylver A70 and Mk41?

        This does sound like great news if it forces the MoD to add Mk41 to T45. Also, with first steel due to be cut on T26 soon and some long lead items for the first 3 T26 apparently already purchased now would seem to be quite a good time to negotiate a block buy on at least 21 x 8-cell Mk41 (2 each for the T45 and 3 each for the first 3 T26) to hopefully get a better price for a decent-sized order.

  4. I have been arguing and lobbying for the mk 41 vl system for years. Far superior and adaptable design able to take anti air missiles, asroc, harpoon, tomahawk, new long range anti ship missile etc.
    The Uk was seduced into the aster 15/ 30 PAAMS system which is probably the best short and medium range SAM system in the world currently but the launchers cannot take anything else.
    The type 45 design could however take a 24cell strike length mk41vl system as well as sea viper. Ideally would be great to get them fitted whilst 45s in dry dock having holes cut into their hulls to slot new diesel engines into.
    An anti ballistic missile aster 30 NT probably then is not needed as Standard 3-6 series missiles are a superior BMD system i would think.

    • I’m hoping, probably forlornly, that our T26 might make use of some of the design work for the Australian bid which almost certainly has specified an all-Mk41 forward VLS silo and go the same way for our T26 because it would give so much more flexibility. Someone who claimed to be involved with T26 design in another forum said that an all-Mk41 option had been catered for in the design but didn’t say how many.

      If possible a 48 Mk41 forward silo instead of the currently planned 24 Mk41 + 24 Sea Ceptor would give a far more flexible and bigger load-out. Quad-pack 8 with Seaceptor and you get 32 Sea Ceptor forward (vs 24 in current design so 8 more) plus 40 Mk41 left for other stuff (vs 24 in current design so 16 more). Leave the other 24 Sea Ceptor amidships as a specialist soft-launch silo and that gives a formidable and flexible set of teeth. The design as envisaged now will be good but 48 Mk41 up front would make it exceptional. Even if only a 36 cell Mk41 could be accommodated that would still be an increase in capacity and flexibility.

    • Not so sure about that. I woul rather have Aster and CAAM than the SM series of missiles. Everything I have heard or read points to better performance from the Aster 15 and 30 compared to SM 1,2 so I would assume also that Aster 30NT will probably be better than SM6. It is after all a generation ahead in terms of its basic technology. The SM6 is also hideously expensive.

  5. That is a winning calculation.
    compared to MODs
    6 (type45s only)+8 (type 26s)+0 (antiship missiles) +7 (astutes only) + 0 (lph with retirement of Ocean)= utter failure to provide proper defence

  6. I read on another forum that the Aster 30 Block 1NT is compatible with the existing Sylver A50 VLS.

    Assuming this is the case, there are still many unanswered questions over the use of Mark 41 VLS and the future direction and capability of the Type 45.

    It would make sense to install Mark 41 VLS when the Type 45’s are docked during the propulsion upgrades as there would be many more missiles available to use in future.

    The Aster 30 Block 2 is currently in development.

    The UK and France have agreed to a joint missile project to replace Harpoon, Exocet, Storm Shadow and SCALP.

    The current SCALP Naval uses Sylver A70.

    If the Type 45’s are upgraded with Mark 41 VLS and the existing Sylver A50 VLS is left as is, I assume that any future purchase of Aster 30 Block 2 and Storm Shadow replacement will need to be Mark 41 VLS compatible.

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