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.