In December, Italy officially joined the ‘Aster 30 Block 1NT’ programme.
MBDA say in a press release:
“This amendment embodies the participation of Italy in the programme. It follows the notification of the initial contract under French mandate on December 23, 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 multiple applications in land and naval defence systems against air attacks and ballistic missiles.
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.”
Italy has in fact expressed its desire to use the Aster 30 Block 1 NT from its future class of offshore patrol vessels.
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).”
British officials at a summit last March said that the Royal Navy is considering arming its destroyers with the new Aster version, dubbed Aster 30 Block 1NT (New Technology), a wide area defence missile capable against 1500 km-range ballistic missiles.
Earlier in 2016 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 French Defence Minister and his Italian counterpart signed the agreement yesterday in Paris.
The programme aims to “extend the range to hit incoming ballistic missiles”.