Ukrainian soldiers start training on the SAMP/T air defense system

French Armed Forces

While France and Italy scramble to assemble a complete Aster 30 SAMP/T [also called MAMBA – ed. note] anti-air system before Spring 2023, Ukrainian anti-air specialists have been sent for training. 

Ukrainian soldiers from the air defense forces were sent to train on the system, Lieutenant General Nikolai Oleshuk, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, announced on February 5, 2023. 

“I sincerely thank the Governments of France and Italy for the decision regarding the provision of SAMP/T-Mamba anti-aircraft/anti-aircraft systems to protect Ukraine from Russian missile terror and strengthen the country’s air defense system,” Oleshuk said. “We are looking forward to our specialists because, in the spring, they will return to Ukraine not empty-handed but with knowledge, skills, and the SAMP/T Mamba system themselves.” 

The training should take place in central France, at Avord Air Base 702, where the 1st Air Artillery Regiment of the French Air and Space Force is located. 

Increasing the range of Ukraine’s air defense 

Italian soldiers reloading a SAMP/T system (Credit: Italian Army)

An Aster 30 SAMP/T system comprises one command and control system connected to a multi-function Thales Arabel radar and up to six vertical launchers, each fitted with eight ASTER 30 missiles. Developed as part of a collaboration between France and Italy, the system can track 100 trajectories and engage ten simultaneously. It is the only European system designed to counter ballistic missiles.  

On February 3, 2022, French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu and his Italian counterpart Guido Crosetto finalized the delivery of the system to Ukraine. The two countries will assemble a complete system using some stored elements. 

On the same day, France announced that the system would rely on a Thales Ground Master 200 radar financed by Paris as part of a support fund of €200 million. The GM200 has an increased range compared to the Arabel, especially at low altitudes. This advantage should help Ukraine protects its airspace from cruise missiles and drones. 

The Aster 30 missiles provided to Ukraine should be deducted from a large order placed by France and Italy to MBDA in January 2023. The Aster 30 missile used by the Mamba can hit aircraft up to 120 kilometers away and ballistic missiles at 30 kilometers.  

The two countries specified neither the number nor the origin of the accompanying launchers. 

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