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Aster 15
Aster 30

Eurosam is a Franco-Italian joint venture created by the French companies Aerospatiale and Thompson-CSF and the Italian firm Alenia/Finmeccanica in order to develop the anti-missile programme FSAF (Future Surface-to-Air Family), which is organised around the Franco-Italian missile Aster. This family has a naval component, the PAAMS (Horizon program) and a mobile land component to be mounted on vehicles which is currently under development.

The two versions of the missile differ only in the size of their first booster stage and, consequently, their range: from 1.7 to 30 km in the case of the Aster 15, and from three to 80 km in the case of the Aster 30. When it entered service, the Aster was the Western World's first surface-to-air missile with active guidance. The Aster is capable of load limits of 60 G in its terminal phase thanks to its aerodynamic pilot, in addition to which there are impulses from lateral jets at the center of gravity, making last-minute corrections of trajectory possible at the moment of interception. That capability makes the Aster unique in the world.

In December 1997 Aerospatiale announced two significant firing tests of Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. In the first test an Aster 15 successfully intercepted a sea-skimming target in a very high electronic countermeasures environment. The Aster scored what the French immediately called a "Hit-to-Kiss". Aster's impact point was under a meter from its target's center of gravity. On 11 December 1997, an Aster 30 ground launched missile underwent s its first validation firing against a real target. The intercept occurred at a distance of 16.2 nm. (30 km) from the launch point at an altitude of 36,000 ft (11,000 meters). The C22 target was flying at Mach 0.84 (900 km/h) and the Aster 30 intercepting the target head-on and from above at Mach 2.68. The recorded miss-distance was less than 4 meters.

Aster is capable of evolving in the direction of an antiballistic role in the future. The missile would be able to deal with ballistic missiles with a range of 1,000 km as they reenter the atmosphere. The homing head would have to be made more powerful or its algorithms speeded up, considering the approach speeds involved. The field of the proximity fuze would have to be reduced from 60o to 30o to increase its sensitivity, and fragmentation of the explosive charge would have to be adjusted to produce larger fragments.

The Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) is a new surface-to-air missile system, developed essentially to provide medium-range air defence and anti-missile protection for high-value units, such as aircraft carriers or merchant tankers, in the vicinity of the escort. The Horizon air defence frigate project involves France, Italy and the United Kingdom. The program covers the ship and secondary weapon systems, and PAAMS. the PAAMS has not suffered from London's recent decision to withdraw from the Horizon frigates program. The Horizon International Joint Venture Co., the prime contractor designated for the program, is owned by the French firm Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) International, the British firm GEC-Maritime Ltd., and the Italian company Orrizonte SpA. The operational specifications for the frigate were set out in the "Trilateral Staff Requirements" document signed in 1992. However, the partners encountered major difficulties in their efforts to reach agreement on the operational capabilities of the missile system.

Sea Viper PAAMS: Principal Anti-Air Missile System

Sea Viper is the punch of the Type 45 destroyers, the very reason the ships exist: to protect a naval task force from air attack, and the reason why that main mast is so tall. The missile provides all-round defence not just for the destroyer but for an entire naval task group - against all aerial threats some 70 miles away. It races towards its target at speeds in excess of Mach Four (over 3,000mph) using a series of tiny jets to manoeuvre, carrying out sharp turns at G forces no human could endure. The system comprises Sampson radar (the spinning egg atop the Type 45s main mast), a Combat Management System, long-range radar, the Sylver missile-launching system on the destroyer's forecastle and Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles with ranges up to 20 and 75 miles respectively. Sea Viper was known as PAAMS: Principal Anti-Air Missile System, until January 28 2009 the date of the arrival of the first Type 45, HMS Daring, in Portsmouth. The missiles were tested at France's missile range, the Centre dEssais de Lancement des Missiles on le du Levant, off Toulon, using a special trials barge, Longbow, before the first successful firing from Type 45. That came off the Outer Hebrides in September 2010 at the Benbecula ranges, where HMS Dauntless successfully shot down a drone target.




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