Aerial WarfareMilitary Conflicts

Italian Government Explores Sending Air Defense System Missiles to Ukraine

Italian Army SAMP/T Aster 30 Air Defense System
Italian Army SAMP/T Aster 30 Air Defense System

The Italian government is readying a new arms package for Ukraine including air defense system missiles. Western nations have been delivering more air defense hardware to Ukraine since President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last month asked the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations for help to stop Russian missiles raining down on Ukrainian cities. Reuters reported that the Italian coalition official, who declined to be named, said Italian government was ready to provide Ukraine with a variety of air-defense systems, including the medium-range Franco-Italian SAMP/T and Italian Aspide, as well as manportable Stinger missiles.

Italian Army SAMP/T Aster 30 air defense system
Italian Army SAMP/T Aster 30 medium range air defense system. (Photo by Esercito Italiano)

The SAMP/T (Sol-Air Moyenne-Portée/Terrestre, Surface-to-Air Medium-Range/Land-based) air defense missile system was developed by EUROSAM, a joint venture by MBDA France and Italy, and Thales. The system can engage larger aircraft at a range of up to 120 km. Range against ballistic and anti-radiation missiles is 15 km. The SAMP/T was deployed operationally by the French Army and Air Force, as well as Italian Army in 2011. Though Italian Air Force uses a different MEADS air defense system. The SAMP/T replaces in service all existing medium-range air defense systems. Furthermore the SAMP/T has demonstrated its capability against tactical ballistic missiles.

Italian Army Aspide medium range surface-to-air missile
Italian Army Aspide medium range surface-to-air missile. (Photo by Esercito Italiano)

The Aspide (the Italian name for the asp) is an Italian medium range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile produced by Selenia (then by Alenia Aeronautica, now a part of Leonardo S.p.A.). It is provided with semi-active radar homing seeker. It is very similar to the American AIM-7 Sparrow, using the same airframe, but uses an inverse monopulse seeker that is far more accurate and much less susceptible to ECM than the original conical scanning version. However, the Aspide had original electronics and warhead, and a new and more powerful engine. Closed-loop hydraulics were also substituted for Sparrow’s open-loop type, which gave Aspide better downrange maneuverability.

Italian Army FIM-92 Stinger man-portable air-defense system
Italian Army FIM-92 Stinger man-portable air-defense system. (Photo by Esercito Italiano)

The FIM-92 Stinger is an American man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) that operates as an infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM). It can be adapted to fire from a wide variety of ground vehicles, and from helicopters as the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS). It entered service in 1981 and is used by the militaries of the United States and 29 other countries. It is principally manufactured by Raytheon Missiles & Defense and is produced under license by Airbus Defence and Space in Germany and by Roketsan in Turkey. In February 2022, Italy announced that they were providing Stinger missiles to the Ukrainian forces defending against the Russian invasion.

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