Air Defense: Patriot Competition From Europe


June 6,
The Italian army has successfully
completed test firings of its new SAMP/T air defense missile system. Using the
Aster 30 missile, which already operates on warships in several nations, a
SAMP/T battery consists of eight vehicles (one for command, another for the
phased array radar, and six firing units, each carrying an eight cell canister
for storing and firing the half-ton missiles.) Additional trucks carry reload
missiles and other equipment. The radar has a range of 100 kilometers. Like the
similar U.S. Patriot system, SAMP/T can knock down short range ballistic
missiles, and low flying cruise missiles. The system is highly automated,
requiring only two crew to operate it. Each launcher can fire all eight of its
missiles in ten seconds, and the control system can track a hundred targets
simultaneously, and control sixteen missiles simultaneously. Targets as low as
150 feet, or as high as 60,000 feet can be detected and hit. The max range of
the missiles, at high altitude targets (like incoming ballistic missiles) is
100 kilometers. At low altitude (under 10,000 feet), max range is 50
kilometers. France has ordered twelve batteries of SAMP/T, while Italy has
ordered six. The French army and air force (each are getting six batteries)
will also conduct test firings this year, and deliveries will begin next year.


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