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Aster 15 hits sea-skimming target drone in test

Aerospatiale's Aster 15 naval air-defence missile has successfully intercepted a sea-skimming target in a simulated threat environment which included stand-off jamming intended to protect the target drone, an Aerospatiale C22.

The test engagement on 13 November was intended to simulate a sea-skimming missile attack with the in-bound missile protected by a stand-off jammer aircraft.

The Aster 15 missile in the test was a telemetred variant, with the warhead removed. The missile's wing surfaces clipped the leading edge of the C22. The production Aster 15 will carry a warhead with a design lethal radius of 5m.

Aerospatiale and Alenia are now in the final stages of negotiating the proposed workshare agreement for the UK's procurement of the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS), which consists of the Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles for the tri-national Horizon frigate. Along with the UK's Royal Navy, the French an Italian navies are to procure Horizon-class frigates.

The Horizon programme is believe to be under scrutiny in the UK Government's Strategic Defence Review, which is also considering ballistic-missile defence.

Aerospatiale has already studied extended-range versions of the Aster design, the Aster ER and Aster 45, which are intended to provide a long-range shipborne anti-tactical-ballistic-missile defence capability.

The Aster 30 medium-range surface-to-air missile carried out a succesful intercept against a target for the first time on 11 December, intercepting a C22 target at a range of 30km (16.2nm) and an altitude of 36,000ft (11,000m).

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