Naval Warfare

French Navy Air Defense FREMM Frigate Intercepts Three Ballistic Missiles with Aster 30 System

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French Navy Air Defense FREMM Frigate Intercepts Three Ballistic Missiles with Aster 30 System

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French Navy Air Defense FREMM Frigate Intercepts Three Ballistic Missiles with Aster 30 System
French Navy Air Defense FREMM Frigate Intercepts Three Ballistic Missiles with Aster 30 System

On March 21, the French Navy’s FREMM-class frigate Alsace, operating in the Red Sea, successfully destroyed three ballistic missiles coming from Yemen using the Aster 30 Surface-to-air/anti-ballistic missile. The Alsace frigate is deployed in the Red Sea as part of the EUNAVFOR ASPIDES, a European Union military operation aimed at protecting merchant shipping. This event marked the first time the Aster 30 interceptor was used against a ballistic target. Alongside their allies, the French armies contribute to maritime security and participate in the defense of freedom of navigation, particularly from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Hormuz, the objective of the EUNAVFOR ASPIDES operation launched by the European Union. on February 19.

The Aster 15 and Aster 30 are a Franco-Italian family of all-weather, vertical launch surface-to-air missiles. The name “Aster” stands for “Aérospatiale Terminale”, with French company Aérospatiale having been the project’s lead contractor before its missile activities were merged into MBDA. It also takes inspiration from the word “aster”, meaning “star” in Ancient Greek. The missiles as well as the related weapon systems are manufactured by Eurosam, a consortium consisting of MBDA France, MBDA Italy, both with a combined 66% share, and Thales holding 33%.The Aster missiles were developed to intercept and destroy the full spectrum of air threats from high-performance combat aircraft, UAVs and helicopters to cruise, anti-radiation and even sea-skimming supersonic anti-ship missiles.

There are two versions of the Aster missile family, the short-medium range version, the Aster 15, and the long range version, the Aster 30. The missile bodies are identical. Their difference in range and intercept speed is because Aster 30 uses a much larger booster. The Aster 30 Block 1 and Block 1 NT were designed to counter ballistic missiles. It equips the French and Italian FREMM multipurpose frigates, though not through the PAAMS air defense suite itself but specific French and Italian derivatives of the system. Given the larger dimensions of the Aster 30, a naval based system requires the longer tubes of the Sylver A50 or A70 vertical launching system (VLS). The American Mark 41 Vertical Launching System can accommodate Aster 30.

Alsace (D656) is an Aquitaine-class frigate of the French Navy developed through the FREMM multipurpose frigate program. She is the first of two air-defense variants of the class known as FREMM DA (Frégate Européenne Multimissions de Défense Aérienne) in the program. Alsace and her sister ship retain most of the armaments and sensors of their ASW sister ships within the FREMM class. However, the ships have enhancements related to air defense including a more powerful Thales Herakles multi-function radar with more transmitter modules and additional wave-forms and search modes for long range air defense. The ships also incorporate Sylver A50 vertical launch systems permitting them to carry both MBDA Aster 15 and/or 30 surface-to-air missiles.

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