PARIS, June 14 (UPI) -- Italy is teaming with France on the development of the Aster 30 Block 1 NT missile, MBDA Missile Systems announced Tuesday.
Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti and the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian inked a cooperation agreement in Paris Tuesday, MBDA said in a statement.
The agreement joins Italy to the French development program that launched in December 2015.
In addition to upgrading the existing Aster missile, the program includes modernization of the SAMP/T systems that are currently used by the French air force and the Italian army, MBDA said.
"These systems as a result will see themselves featuring enhanced capabilities notably against ballistic missiles and thereby making essential contribution to the NATO programme in this domain," the company said.
MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier called the Aster program "Europe's most ambitious tactical missile programme."
The cooperation will help sustain industrial know-how and will ensure the sovereignty of each country going forward, the company said.
"Aster is in fact much more than a missile," Bouvier said. "It is a whole family of air defence and anti-missile systems which has been adopted by 11 armed forces around the world. Aster represents the leading edge of worldwide military capability and as such serves to consolidate the European missile industry."