What is Ukraine’s most pressing need? Many military tacticians would respond with air defence. They’d be correct. Since February 2022, Russia’s missile and drone strikes have been harassing the country’s residents.
A significant reinforcement in this area of Ukrainian defence provides a greater sense of security. So the news that Italy is ready to supply Ukraine with a SAMP/T air defence system is more than welcome. Because this anti-aircraft missile system is among the most advanced in its class.
The transfer is currently in the planning stages. France, which is also a party to the proceedings, must agree. Italy appears to have made a decision, and France appears to be following suit. According to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, it will be beneficial to Ukraine.
Rome has delivered five packages of military aid to Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Antonio Tajani, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that Italy has provided Ukraine with 1 billion euros in military aid. Mr. Tajani told Corriere Della Sera reporters that the SAMP/T systems were included in the sixth package.
“In cooperation with France, we are finalizing the delivery of SAMP/T, and in addition, other actions are planned that we are not disclosing,” said the minister.
Mr. Tajani spoke about bringing peace to Europe. But, by his own admission, he must be fair. The Ukrainian portal mil.in.ua writes that just peace means “restoring the territorial integrity of the country”. This entails the withdrawal of Russian military forces from temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.
SAMP/T is an anti-aircraft missile defence system with a medium range. This is exactly what the system’s acronym – Sol-Air Moyenne-Portée/Terrestre in French [Surface-to-Air Medium-Range/Land-based] – means.
The “heart” of SAMP/T is a complex system of radars and sensors. Because of the use of 3D radar, a single battery can deal with multiple aerial targets at the same time. It scans everything, including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, anti-missile defence systems, cruise missiles, and anti-radiation missiles. Weapons used by Russian forces in Ukraine over the last three months.
SAMP/T has even more applications. The system can engage air targets at higher speeds and at higher altitudes than usual. France and Italy accomplished this by incorporating an upgraded version of the Arabel radar. Arabel “hunts” air targets with a 600-kilometer range.
Italy has not specified which missiles it will provide Ukraine in order for SAMP/T to be used effectively. There are two options: Aster 15 and Aster 30. Aster 15 could be chosen as the complex’s striking force. Although it has a shorter range of 30km [the Aster 30 has a range of 120km], the Aster 15 uses the same Arabel radar as the battery.
Both rockets are propelled by a two-stage solid propellant motor. This ensures that the Aster 15 will travel at Mach 3 and the Aster 30 will travel at Mach 4.5. The Aster 15 and 30 have a 15 kg focused fragmented warhead with a lethal radius of 2 metres. A proximity fuse with a calculated delay is used as the detonation mechanism.
Several countries already operate the SAMP/T as part of their air defense system. SAMP/T was designed in two versions: for naval and land launch. Ukraine will be given the second choice.