An European consortium, led by France and Italy, have begun a $3.5 billion project to develop a theater anti-ballistic missile system based on the existing Aster 30 system. The project includes the purchase of 1,400 missiles and other equipment. The current Aster 30 anti-aircraft missile will undergo software and mechanical improvements between now and 2014, at which point the "Block 1" missile will be able to take care of any short range (under 600 kilometers) ballistic missiles. The Aster 30 is a 15 foot long, 979 pound, two stage missile that can hit targets as high as 66,000 feet and 100 kilometers away. Development of the Aster 30 began in 1990, and it was accepted for service in 2000. A shorter range version, the Aster 15, is being used aboard French and Italian warships. The first "Block 1" Aster 30s are to enter service in 2007. If this project shows good progress, other European nations said they will buy in.