SAMP/T Air Defense System (France & Italy)

Quick Facts

Role and Mobility Medium-Range air and missile defense; Ground-based, road-mobile
Interceptors and Range Aster 15: 30 km; Aster 30: 120 km
Sensors Arabel Radar
Targets Combat aircraft, UAVs, cruise missiles, and short-range ballistic missiles
Status/Exports Operational; France, Italy, Singapore, Azerbaijan
Designer/Producer Developed by Eurosam; jointly owned by MBDA Missile Systems and Thales


SAMP/T is a theater-level air defense system designed for point defense against current and future airborne threats. One of only a handful of European-produced systems that can counter ballistic missiles, SAMP/T is developed by Eurosam and jointly owned by MBDA Missile Systems and Thales. The system is fielded by Italy and France to protect against UAVs, cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles ranging up to 600 km, and fighter aircraft.[i]

System components include a command and control vehicle, Arabal radar, and up to six transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles, each equipped with eight Aster interceptors and a supply of reload missiles.[ii]Mounted on either a Renault 8 x 4 Kerax (France) transporter erector launcher (TEL)  or an Astra (Italy) 8 x 8 TEL, the road-mobile system is capable of providing air defense for units at maneuver pace and can be airlifted by the latest NATO tactical transport aircraft for rapid long-distance deployment.[iii]

SAMP/T uses Aster 15 and Aster 30 interceptors, with maximum ranges of over 30 and 120 km respectively. Aster interceptors use solid propellant and have two stages. To track and intercept aerial targets, Aster interceptors use inertial guidance and tracking information provided by Arabel radar and employ an electromagnetic active seeker in the homing phase. Aster 30 interceptors are capable of reaching an altitude of 20 km and a velocity of Mach 4.5.[iv]Once identified and tracked, Aster interceptors employ proximity fuses and blast fragmentation warheads to incapacitate aerial targets.[v]SAMP/T has 360-degree detection and engagement coverage capability provided by the rotating multi-functional Arabel radar antenna. It is also capable of tracking 100 aerial targets and engaging 10 simultaneously. The system is designed to counter advanced aerial targets and has a high resistance to counter-measures.[vi]

Strategic Implications

SAMP/T provides both France and Italy with a domestically produced air and missile defense system capable of integration into NATO’s missile defense framework. It’s ability to counter short-range ballistic missiles makes the system ideal for defending against the limited ballistic missile capabilities of emerging regional powers. In June 2016, Italy deployed a SAMP/T system to southern Turkey as part of a NATO measure to reinforce Turkey’s border against a possible Syrian missile threat.[vii]SAMP/T’s ability to counter modern air and missile threats coupled with the system’s mobility provides NATO forces of Europe enhanced maneuverability in an anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) environment, such as that established by Russia in Eastern Europe. The mobile air defense system can provide protection against Russian aerial threats attempting to prevent access into contested regions. The system was also sold to Singapore to complement the country’s Formidable Class frigates equipped with Aster 30 interceptors.[viii]


December 2018: MBDA received permission to sell SAMP/T systems to Azerbaijan.[ix]

September 2013: Singapore’s Defense Minister announced Singapore’s acquisition of a Eurosam SAMP/T equipped with Aster 30 interceptors.[x]

March 2013: Italian Army and French Air Force deployed SAMP/T within a NATO architecture for the first time and successfully intercepted a theater ballistic missile target during an intercept test.[xi]

June 2012: The Italian Army activated its first SAMP/T regiment.[xii]

February 2011: The French Air Force deployed a SAMP/T system to provide air defense for the G8 Summit in Deauville, France.[xiii]

2010: SAMP/T systems in French service became operational.[xiv]

May 2008: SAMP/T began operational evaluation with the French and Italian armies with two successful test firings.[xv]

July 2005: First qualification trial involving the whole SAMP/T system took place and involved target acquisition and tracking by the Arabel radar, as well as interception by the Aster interceptor.[xvi]

1999: Qualification firing trials began for SAMP/T.[xvii]

1997: Production engineering and initial volume production for SAMP/T began.[xviii]

1990: Full-scale development of the Aster 30 and SAMP/T began.[xix]

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