EUROSAM: SAMP/T NG becomes multi-range multi-layer

EDR On-Line editorial staff

With all its modules exhibited on the stand, the New Generation launcher having arrived shortly before the show, the SAMP/T NG was not only showcased in its newest version, but it was also announced that it is being further developed to become a multi-range multi-layer system, its Engagement Module New Generation being fitted with a software capable to manage missiles of different types

The path of the SAMP/T systems towards the New Generation standard started in 2021, with the French Air Force and the Italian Army setting their requirements, which finally merged into a single configuration.

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The programme is running on time, a firing test with the complete system being planned soon, with the final aim of having the system in service by 2027. The original requirement called for the new system to be able to manage the Aster family munitions, the Aster 30 B1 and the Aster 30 B1NT, and to integrate the Thales Ground Fire radar and the Leonardo Kronos Grand Mobile High Power, according to the national requirements.

Eurosam was requested to carry out a feasibility study to widen the SAMP/T capabilities, allowing it to manage not only Aster missiles but also SHORAD (Short Range Air Defence) missiles and eventually other shorter and longer range effectors, transforming the system into a multi-layer system.

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The system was already multi-layer at a smaller scale, considering the different performances of the B1 and B1NT. The latter will actually see an extended antiballistic capability and will be able to detect targets at a much greater distance; thanks to its seeker, it will intercept much faster targets and, in particular, longer range ballistic missiles. At Eurosatory the consortium announced that the SAMP/T NG will be capable to handle also shorter range missiles, such as the VL/MICA, of which two systems were recently delivered to the French Air and Space Force, and CAMM-ER missiles, which are the effectors of the Grifo, the future SHORAD asset of the Italian Army, and of the new MAADS system for the Italian Air Force.

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The key element for that integration is the Engagement Module New Generation, ME NG in short, which features an open scalable and modular architecture. A service-oriented architecture software layer overlaps the base layer, providing the needed flexibility and adaptability. This allows developing specific dedicated software interfaces.

The development of the SAMP/T NG remains as a priority, the aim being to deliver on time new capabilities with the ability to engage air threats at long range, while offering an autonomous capability against ballistic missiles. The idea of exploiting the ME NG, developed in cooperation between Thales and MBDA Italia, as the centre of a star made of different systems with different ranges is quite attractive, as it would provide a better answer, especially against saturation attacks by different types of effectors such as drones, loitering munitions, air breathing targets and ballistic missiles, engaging each of them with the most cost/effective weapon system.

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The ME NG in its current form can manage up to six launchers in integrated mode, and if the multilayer configuration will be implemented, these will be of the Aster/VL MICA/CAMM-ER type. A solution with four Aster and two SHORAD launchers seems the most probable one, but the system flexibility will also allow other mix. The ME NG is obviously linked to a radar, of the aforementioned models, and can also be linked to a higher echelon, such as a Command Chain, with upper layer Command and Control centres, or the NATO Tactical Control Chain.

The ME NG can also be interfaced with other fire control units specific to SHORAD systems, in that case these working in a coordinated and not in an integrated mode.

EDR On-Line met Giovanni Soccodato, MBDA Executive Group Director Sales and Business Development MBDA, and MBDA Italia Managing Director. MBDA Italia is fully involved in the core element of the new development, the Engagement Module. “Exploiting the SAMP/T NG as the core of a multi-level integrated air defence capability, the radar ensures surveillance and with the SAMP/T NG ME module provides the air recognized picture, which we can take and use by integrating shorter range batteries, for Italy those based on the CAMM ER, which will deliver a complete, integrated and multi-level system, the SAMP/T NG managing all operations up to engagement, in a fully integrated manner,” he told us. “This allows not only to use the right effector against the looming threat, but also to have a second level of defence to neutralize the target in case the first one fails,” he added. “With a relatively limited effort we are able to increase operational capacity and protection, obtaining an integrated multi-level air defence, which could then be complemented downwards with Mistral and the new Italian Army V-SHORAD, and in the future with the defence system against hypersonic missiles, being developed in the frame of the EDF HYDIS2 programme, which will require a higher level early warning system.” According to Soccodato this will also add flexibility in the marketing campaigns. “It also gives us the possibility of going to the market from different angles, proposing to a customer who has a SHORAD system such as MICA or CAMM a higher level protection with Aster, or offering a potential customer an Aster based system and a subsequent integration with a lower level SHORAD.”

Photos by P. Valpolini