France signs Aster missile upgrade contract

By Ryan Maass  |  Jan. 13, 2016 at 3:40 PM
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PARIS, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- France's defense procurement agency, DGA, has signed a contract with the Eurosam consortium to upgrade the Aster surface-to-air missile.

The contract funds the Block 1 New Tech program, which aims to enhance the intercept range of Aster missiles. Eurosam, which comprises both Paris-based defense contractor Thales and MBDA Missile Systems, says the upgrades will focus on strengthening the missile's use in anti-tactical ballistic missile missions.

The contract signing follows the Monday signing of a memorandum of understanding by Britain, France and Italy to maintain and improve the Aster missile system.

The Aster missile comes in two main variants, including the Aster 15 for short to medium ranges, and the Aster 30 for short to long ranges. The 683-pound Aster 15 missiles are capable of reaching speeds of Mach 3 when launched. Both variants are designed to be highly maneuverable in combat.

The missiles are currently used by naval forces in Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

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