Alsace's Aster 30s shoot down 3 Houthi ballistic missiles and enter a whole new category

Despite remarkable performance during tests, the Aster 30 missile, and its little brother, the Aster 15, designed and manufactured by MBDA, have always struggled to win against American missiles, such as the SM-2 and the ESSM in the naval version, or the Patriot for the land version.

Many doubted, in fact, the combat performance of the missile, in particular against fast and evolving targets, or against ballistic missiles. In fact, in recent years, it is the American Patriot and ESSM, and the German Iris-T SLM, which have taken the lion's share of European acquisitions.

But things could well change in the months and years to come. Indeed, not only did the Aster family demonstrate, in the Red Sea, its great efficiency and reliability against Houthi drones and cruise missiles, but it apparently managed to shoot down three ballistic missiles anti-ship missiles launched simultaneously against the convoy of commercial ships escorted by the French frigate Alsace, propelling the Aster 30 into a completely different category, that of anti-ballistic missiles whose effectiveness has been tested in combat, and in what way!

3 Aster 30 for 3 Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles

On the morning of March 21, while escorting commercial ships along the Yemeni coast in the Red Sea, the French air defense frigate Alsace detected three ballistic missiles heading towards it. The ship apparently launched Aster 30 missiles, one per target, to intercept them. The missiles hit the target, destroying the threats.

Video of Houthi missile interception.

Presented in this way, the information can almost seem banal. However, it is far from being so. Indeed, intercepting a ballistic missile is a particularly difficult and complex task, which requires simultaneously having appropriate detection and guidance means, the required interceptor, trained operators, and a certain amount of luck. This is the reason why, today, very few armed forces actually have this capability, and even fewer Marines.

But Alsace's feat is not limited to joining this very exclusive club of ships with ABM (for Anti-Ballistic Missile) capabilities. Indeed, the French ship managed to engage three ballistic missiles almost simultaneously, and destroy them all with a small number of missiles.

Aster 30 ABM Alsace Shots
Photo taken from one of the ships escorted by Alsace, showing the French frigate and the three launch plots of its Aster 30 missiles. It seems, therefore, that only three missiles were used.

To see the feat, we can watch the video below, showing a system Ukrainian Patriot grappling with Russian ballistic missiles near Kyiv. It is, in fact, common to launch several missiles to intercept a ballistic missile, even when it does not have the maneuvering and countermeasure capabilities of Russian ballistic missiles like the Iskander.

To counter ballistic missiles, the Patriot system generally launches several missiles per target, like here in Kyiv.

As such, we will not fail to be surprised, following this flamboyant demonstration of efficiency, that the SAMP/T and the Aster 15/30 and Block 1/NT are not natively integrated into the European Sky program. German Shield Initiative, as they have proven to be effective, perhaps much more than the American Patriot, or even the German Iris-T SLM.

Combined Houthi attacks increasingly dense and complex

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  1. Excellent article, thank you very much for the summary. Indeed, let's wait for more information to have clear and precise explanations of this intervention. This remains impressive and reassuring! Have other navies in the region faced other ballistic missiles? (US Navy?)


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