The French Navy’s Forbin air defense frigate fired an Aster 30 surface-to-air missile in a training exercise May 16 to prepare the crew and vessel in engagements against airborne threats. The Aster 30 arms the Forbin and its sister ship, Chevalier Paul, and will be fitted on the two forthcoming multimission frigates to be adapted to the air defense mission. Forbin and Chevalier Paul are French Horizon-class frigates, built in cooperation with Italy. The Aster missile series, primarily comprising the Aster 15 and Aster 30 are a family of vertically launched surface-to-air missiles. The name “Aster” originates from the mythical Greek archer named Asterion (in Greek mythology), Asterion likewise receiving his name from the ancient Greek word aster (Greek: ἀστήρ), meaning “star”.
This firing as well as its preparatory phase are particularly important because they create an operational situation of full and realistic engagement for the frigate and its crew. It confirms the effectiveness of the weapons system of the French Navy’s air defense frigates and their ability to engage a hostile air target in order to protect the vessel or the vessels it is escorting.
With a length of 4.9 m and a mass of 450 kg, capable of speeds greater than Mach 4, the Aster 30 long range anti-aircraft missile has an electromagnetic seeker. It can be used against missiles or hostile aircraft and thus contributes to the defense of a carrier battle group or amphibious battle group.
Aster is primarily operated by France, Italy, and the United Kingdom and is an integrated component of the PAAMS air-defence missile system, known in the Royal Navy as Sea Viper. As the principal weapon of the PAAMS system, Aster equips the Type 45 destroyers and the Horizon class frigates. Aster also equips the French and Italian FREMM multipurpose frigates, though they will not be operating as part of a PAAMS air-defence suite.