The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation’s (OCCAR) FSAF-PAAMS Programme Division has handed over an additional Aster sol-air moyenne portée terrestre (SAMP/T) air defence system to the French Air Force at the French Defence Procurement Agency’s (DGA) premises in Biscarrosse, France. Delivered following configuration surveys and functional trials, the system represents the penultimate SAMP/T system to be delivered under the contract and equipped the air force’s Ground Based Air Defence Squadron 01.950 CRAU, located on Istres Air Force Base, in the south-east of France. Manufactured by Eurosam , an MBDA and Thales joint venture, the SAMP/T air defence system provides 360° protection against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, combat aircraft and unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) over a range of 600km in the battlefield. Called Mamba in French service, the system features a network of advanced sensors and radars, including a Thales ARABEL 3D multi-functional phased array radar, to increase effectiveness against targets at high speeds and altitudes.
Around 12 Mamba systems were initially ordered by the French Ministry of Defence, six each for use by the national army and air force, but the numbers were reduced to ten, all for air force use by 2012. Mounted onboard a Renault 8×4 Kerax transporter erector launcher vehicle, the system features eight missiles that can be salvo-fired in less than ten seconds. The system has also been ordered by the Italian Army and the Republic of Singapore Air Force. The tenth and the final system is scheduled to be delivered to the French Air Force before the end of 2014.
Image: A SAMP/T air defence system of the French Air Force. Photo: courtesy of OCCAR.