Italy has formally joined with France to develop a new air defense missile system under the B1NT program.
The program include development of a new MBDA Aster Block 1 NT (New Technology) air defense missile and upgrading existing SAMP/T air defense systems currently in service with French Air Force and Italian Army to fire the new missile.
The current Aster 30 Block 1 based SAMP/T was Europe's first capability against theater ballistic missiles, while the NT version will extend this capability to more complex threats including from Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBM) like the Chinese DF-21.
Unlike its predecessor, the Aster 30 Block 1 NT missile will also have the capability to be launched from naval platforms in addition to ground based platforms. Italy plans to equip its future class of PPA (Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura) offshore patrol vessels with the system.
The Block 1 NT will be equipped with a new Ku-band seeker that increases its detection range and angular resolution, resulting in faster and more accurate interceptions of ballistic missiles with a range of up to 1500 km.
The capability is expected to be available from 2023. UK is also interested in the system to equip its Type 45 destroyers.
Aster is a two-stage missile with a solid fuel booster first stage that ensures a optimum missile trajectory towards the target. Up to its mid-course inertial guidance is used. The terminal interceptor second stages homes to the target autonomously using the electromagnetic active seeker.