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First Interception of a Simulated Sea-Skimming Missile by the ASTER

First Interception of a Simulated Sea-Skimming Missile by the ASTER

Source: Aerospatiale. Paris, 14.04.1997.

A simulated sea-skimming missile was successfully intercepted for the first time by an ASTER antimissile missile on Tuesday April 8, 1997, at the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement's Landes Test Center, under the responsibility of EUSOSAM and Aerospatiale-Missiles.

Aerospatiale/Alenia's ASTER 15 missile intercepted a C 22 target drone flying at an altitude of 10 m above water, at a speed of 1000 km/h. The interception took place at a range of 7 km.

The flight lasted about 10 seconds. After vertical launch from an ALENIA/DCN Ruelle naval launcher located on the seashore, the missile took up its trajectory, jettisoned its booster motor after 2.5 seconds, and then lit its sustaining motor. The terminal automatic guidance system initiated the operation of the "direct thrust control" system just before the interception. The two missiles crossed at a relative speed of 3500 km/h.

The miss distance from the target was confirmed to be well within the range of effectiveness of the ASTER missile's warhead by the telemetry bay, which replaced the missile's warhead, and by the Test Center's trajectories.

An up-link, representative of that of Alenia's company Italian EMPAR radar's C band, was also used for the first time. This success hence demonstrated the ASTER missile's capability of operating with different radars, since previous firing tests had been performed with the frequency band of Thomson-CSF's Arabel radar.

The success of this firing test validates the performance of the ASTER antimissile missile in active automatic guidance, as regards the discrimination of low signature targets flying at very low altitude in a difficult environment. It also provides good guarantees as regards the ability of an ASTER 30 antimissile missile fired from ground battery to intercept a cruise missile flying at low altitude.

Indeed, the only difference between the two missiles lies in the size of their first booster stage and hence in their range : from 1.7 km to 30 km for an ASTER 15 and from 3 km to 80 km for an ASTER 30, with an identical terminal munition. The results of this firing test hence apply to both of these missiles.

The twelve previous tests performed between 1992 and 1996, had allowed the successive validation of the vertical launch, the trajectory shaping and the complete flight envelope. The last two tests involved the succesfull interception of C 22 target drones representing combat aircraft , flying at an altitude of 1000 m along a rectilinear trajectory in the case of the first target and with evading maneuvering (at 5 g) in the case of the second. The April 8 firing test is the first interception in an antimissile scenario. It paves the way for the next firing test planned for mid 1997 against a real antiship missile.

ASTER will be the first Western ground-to-air missile with an active homing head to enter service. It will be fitted to the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier from the year 2000 onwards as part of the French Navy's SAAM programme.

The ASTER 15 and 30 missiles are used in naval and ground-based anti-aircraft and FSAF (Famille de systèmes Sol-Air Futurs) anti missile defense systems, developed under the prime contractorship of EUROSAM, a consortium bringing together Aerospatiale, Alenia and Thomson-CSF.

Press contact : Sophie Thuillier, Aerospatiale-Missile-Phone : Fax :


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).