Italy is participating in the Aster 30 Block 1 New Technology (B1NT) programme, developed by MBDA and Thales consortium, Eurosam.

The contract amendment follows notification of the initial award under a French mandate on 23 December 2015 and the arrangement of cooperation, which was signed between the French and Italian Defence Ministers in June last year.

The arrangement of cooperation sets-out the framework of responsibilities and rights of France and Italy in the missile's development, as well as its several applications in land and naval defence systems against air attacks and ballistic missiles.

MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier said: “The Italian notification strengthens the Aster programme well beyond the financial and technological contribution.

“Once again, cooperation in Europe adds up to far more than the sum of its parts. After the current Aster 30 Block 1, which gave Europe its first defence capability against theatre ballistic missiles, the Aster 30 B1NT will allow to extend this capability to more complex threats and will also deal with the emerging threat of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM).”

"The arrangement of cooperation lays down the framework of responsibilities and rights of France and Italy in the missile's development."

Under the B1NT development programme, MBDA will develop the Aster missile's B1NT. The programme will also focus on development of the missile for ground and naval Aster systems, including required modification for use on warships.

In addition, MBDA will upgrade the surface-to-air missile platform/terrain (SAMP/T) systems, which are currently in-service with the French Air Force and Italian Army.

SAMP/T systems will feature increased capabilities, majorly against ballistic missiles, making an essential contribution for the two countries to the Nato programme in this area.

Italy intends to use the Aster 30 B1NT from its future class of Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura (PPA) offshore patrol vessels.