Italian Navy FREMM Frigate ITS Federico Martinengo Test-Fires Aster 30 Missile for First Time

The Italian Navy Bergamini class FREMM frigate, ITS Federico Martinengo (F596) has successfully carried out a test-firing of an Aster 30 surface-to-air missile (SAM) for the first time.

This is the fourth scheduled ASTER 30 firing of the FREMM Programme and it took place at the Italian Joint Firing Range (PISQ) facility located in Easter Sardinia at 13:48 hours on March 4. The target was simulated by a Mirach 40 aerial target drone.

Firing of the Aster 30 missile from Italian Navy FREMM Frigate, ITS Federico Martinengo (F 596). ©Italian Navy
Firing of the Aster 30 missile from Italian Navy FREMM Frigate, ITS Federico Martinengo (F 596). ©Italian Navy

The firing from ITS Federico Martinengo was conducted using an instrumented telemetry missile procured by the OCCAR-EA FSAF-PAAMS Programme Division. The Franco-Italian FREMM program and the UK-France-Italy FSAF-PAAMS program is managed by the European intergovernmental organization OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement / Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation).

ITS Federico Martinengo (F596)
The Italian Navy Bergamini class FREMM frigate, ITS Federico Martinengo (F596). Photo Credit: OCCAR.

“This new success definitely showcases the reliability of the Surface Anti Air Missile providing both Self Defence and Extended Self Defence (SAAM ESD) system, installed onboard the Italian FREMM frigates”, said an OCCAR statement.

Giovanni Sorrentino, the FREMM Programme Manager stated: “The whole mission, planned in a such complex scenario never verified by previous firings, proves the effective cooperation among PISQ, the IT Navy personnel, the OCCAR-EA FREMM and FSAF-PAAMS Programme Divisions and the Industries involved”.

The qualification phase, managed by OCCAR according to the FREMM contract, was previously performed by the ITS Bergamini (F590) both in autonomous and integrated mode.

Aster 30 missile
An Aster 30 missile after being launched from Italian Navy FREMM frigate ITS Bergamini (F590) on 22 November 2016. This was the first firing of an Aster 30 missile from a FREMM frigate. Photo Credit: OCCAR.

All ten Italian FREMM frigates have extended Anti Air Warfare (AAW) capabilities, with SAAM-ESD (Surface Anti Air Missile – Extended Self Defence) Combat Management System (CMS), and 16 MBDA Aster family (Aster 15 and Aster 30) missiles for extended area defense. The missiles are placed in a 16-cell MBDA SYLVER A50 Vertical Launching System (VLS).

SAAM-ESD CMS uses Leonardo’s MFRA (Multi-Function Radar Active) 3D Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar which is an evolved version of Leonardo EMPAR (European Multifunction Phased Array Radar) Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA) radar previously installed on Horizon-class destroyers and the aircraft carrier ITS Cavour.

Aster 15/ Aster 30

The Aster 15 is the short-medium range (1.7-30+ km) version of the Aster vertically launched surface-to-air missile (SAM) family and Aster 30 is the long-range (3-100+ km) version. There is an extensive commonality between the two variants with both missiles featuring identical bodies and the same terminal dart.

Aster 15 has a length of 4.2 m, a diameter of 180 mm and weighs 310 kg. The Aster 30 has the same diameter but is slightly longer at 4.9 m and weighs 450 kg due to its larger booster.

Aster’s terminal dart is a lightweight, highly maneuvering and agile missile equipped with a high-performance active RF seeker. Thanks to the unique combination of aerodynamic control and direct thrust vector control called “PIF-PAF », the missile is capable of high maneuvers.

Aster missiles are primarily operated by France, Italy, and the United Kingdom and is an integrated component of the PAAMS (Principal Anti Air Missile System) air-defense missile system, known in the UK Royal Navy as Sea Viper. As the principal weapon of the PAAMS system, Aster equips the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers and the French/Italian Navies’ Horizon/Orizzonte class frigates.

In the case of French and Italian FREMM multipurpose frigates, the missiles are not operated as part of a PAAMS air-defense suite itself but through Franco-Italian specific declinations of this suite.

The SAMP/T (Sol-Air Moyenne Portée Terrestre, “Land-based Surface-to-Air Medium Range Missile”) land-based SAM system uses Aster 30 missiles and is operated by the French Air Force and the Italian Army.

Eurosam Aster 30 SAMP T
Eurosam Aster 30 SAMP/T air defense system operated by the French Air Force.
Photo Credit: French Ministry of the Armed Forces (Ministère des Armées)

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