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Eurosam to produce SAMP/Ts and missiles for armed forces

CHRISTINA MACKENZIE / PARIS

Eurosam has been handed a g3 billion ($3.4 billion) contract for the series production of 18 SAMP/T ground-launched air defence systems, and around 1,400 Aster 15 and Aster 30 surface-to-air missiles for the French, Italian and UK armed forces.

The SAMP/T has a conventional and anti-tactical ballistic missile (TBM) capability. Its Aster 30 missile has a 100km (55nm) range and is designed to protect battlefield and sensitive tactical sites against airborne threats including cruise missiles, aircraft and TBMs in the 600km range.

Twelve systems are for France (six for the army, six for the air force), which will receive two a year from 2007, and six are for the Italian army, which will receive one a year over the same period.

The contract, awarded by European procurement agency OCCAR, also covers the supply of Aster 15 missiles for SAAM/FR, the principal self-defence system aboard France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, and the first of the future surface-to-air family of weapons to be operational.

Missiles will also be supplied for the Italian SAAM/IT, to be installed on Italy's aircraft carrier Andrea Doria when it enters service in 2007, and for the PAAMS anti-air missile system for the Franco-Italian Horizon frigate. The contract also covers series production of Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles for the PAAMS system to equip the UK's Type 45 Daring-class destroyers.

The hit-to-kill Aster is part of the SAAM system developed by Eurosam, which was formed by France, Italy and the UK in June 1989 to develop future surface-to-air family weapons.

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