Italy Acquires Advanced SAMP/T NG Air-Defense Systems

The contract includes upgraded Aster air defense missiles for the Italian army and navy
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  • 11:38 AM, February 3, 2024
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Italy Acquires Advanced SAMP/T NG Air-Defense Systems
ASTER SAMP/T NG surface-to-air missile @MBDA

The Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) in Europe has signed a crucial contract, delivering four SAMP/T NG air-defense systems for the Italian Army.

This move is part of a wider effort by European nations to bolster their missile defense capabilities.

The contract, an amendment to an existing framework agreement, includes upgraded Aster air defense missiles for the Italian army and navy. It also prepares for the future serial production of SAMP/T NG systems for the French Air Force. Additionally, the United Kingdom will acquire additional equipment for the mid-life update of its Aster interceptors under the same agreement, according to a recent OCCAR press release.

The ongoing conflict stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted urgency among European nations to enhance their air-defense capabilities and replace systems donated to Ukraine. Germany's proposal of the IRIS-T system by Diehl Defence and the U.S.-made Patriot for its European Sky Shield Initiative has caused friction with France, which advocates for the SAMP/T system developed by Thales and missile manufacturer MBDA.

Highlighting the global context, OCCAR emphasized the importance of providing upgraded air-defense systems to confront increasingly challenging threats. French President Emmanuel Macron, in June, cautioned against hasty procurement decisions, advocating for European solutions to avoid reliance on non-European equipment.

In addition to the SAMP/T NG and IRIS-T, European missile air-defense systems include the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), developed by Kongsberg and Raytheon. All three systems, along with the Patriot, have been supplied to Ukraine, reflecting the collaborative effort to strengthen the region's defenses.

Notably, the SAMP/T NG system is an enhanced version of the existing system used by the French and Italian forces. Equipped with new-generation Aster interceptors and advanced multifunctional radars from Thales or Leonardo, the system is expected to be delivered from 2025. The SAMP/T NG system has a detection range of over 350 kilometers and an intercept range of more than 150 kilometers, capable of engaging multiple targets simultaneously.

OCCAR had previously signed an amendment to the framework air-defense missile contract in July, known as FSAF-PAAMS, securing the purchase of five SAMP/T NG systems for the Italian Air Force, with a total value of approximately €700 million.

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