IRIS-T SLM vs Aster 15/30: Will Diehl take over European air defense?

Until two years ago, European air defense systems, in particular the Aster range from the French MBDA, and the IRIS-T SLM from the German Diehl, were often perceived, on the international scene, as systems with lower performance than equivalent American, Russian or Israeli systems.

All three could, in fact, rely on more or less successful combat experiences, sometimes cleverly presented to make them more attractive and competitive than they really are.

In recent months, however, this perception has evolved considerably, due to the more than convincing results obtained by European-designed anti-aircraft systems, whether in Ukraine for the Iris-T SLM and the SAMP/T Mamba, or at sea Red, for the Aster 15 and 30 missiles, opening the way to a frenzied competition between these two systems in Europe.

The Iris-T SLM vs Aster 15/30 competition in Europe

The two European systems are meeting, today, with renewed and insistent interest, on the international scene as well as in Europe. However, the German Iris-T SLM appears to be much more efficient, commercially speaking, than the Franco-Italian Mamba and the Aster 15/30.

Alsace Aster 15
Nearly fifty large surface ships are equipped with Aster 15/30 missiles.

Indeed, while it has only been offered since 2019, it has already recorded six international orders, including five in Europe: Germany, Austria, Estonia/Latvia, Slovenia and Sweden. Conversely, the Franco-Italian SAMP/T Mamba, offered since 2009, is only in service in Europe in the Armies of its two designers, while only Singapore has purchased the system on the scene. international.

The French missile, however, has penetrated with much more efficiency into another market, that of naval surface-to-air missiles. Indeed, today it equips no less than 46 large surface units, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes, within nine naval forces, including the three most powerful military navies in Europe (France, Italy and United Kingdom).

This naval predominance of the Aster could soon be undermined, while Diehl announced that it was developing a naval version of its SLM medium range and its long range SLX, a direct competitor to the Aster 30.

Obviously, a formidable commercial war is brewing today between MBDA's Aster and Diehl's IRIS-T SL, and several elements appear to give the advantage to the German system, particularly in Europe.

MBDA's Aster range: a technological pioneer shaking up American hegemony

However, in this competition, MBDA's Aster can rely on many assets. The first is none other than the proven performance of the system, and of the range of missiles that arm it. If the Aster 15, with a range of 30 to 45 km, depending on the sources, is a direct competitor to the IRIS-T SLM and its 40 km, the Aster 30 exceeds 120 km, and is posed therefore as an alternative to the American Patriot.

SAMP/T Mamba Aster 30
22 units of the SAMP/T Mamba have been built to date, for the French, Italian and Singaporean armies.

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