The end of November 2012 marked the achievement of another key milestone in the history of the Aster family of missiles. Not only had all the naval and ground based air and missile defence capabilities been qualified - with the various supplied systems having also entered operational service with their respective domestic and export customers – but significantly, the integration and final assembly of the 1,000th Aster missile was also completed at MBDA’s Selles-Saint-Denis R&D and production facility in the Centre region of France.
This significant production milestone is further evidence of both the maturity and the success of the Aster family of air defence missiles developed through a major European cooperative programme led by OCCAR on behalf of France and Italy.
Production of Aster started in 2006 at a low rate of five missiles per month. In 2008 this increased to a medium rate of 15 per month. Since 2011, full series production of over 20 missiles a month has been successfully achieved to meet customer delivery requirements. This achievement has been made possible thanks to MBDA’s international programme management skills which have served to optimise the involvement of major European defence industry businesses such as Avio, Roxel, Thales, Selex, Sagem and Simmel.
To ensure that the highest standards for all the leading-edge technologies involved were maintained as production was ramped up, MBDA introduced and implemented a quality improvement plan across the entire Aster industrial chain. This plan has been implemented since 2008. Ongoing testimony to the success of this initiative has been provided by the results of the last 22 consecutive firings, all of which were fully successful. In addition to providing a clear demonstration of product robustness, these firings have also provided evidence of Aster’s operational flexibility and its unique capabilities with regard to the interception of more challenging current threats, such as those posed by ballistic and supersonic sea-skimming/cruise missiles.
Referring to this production milestone, Antoine Bouvier, Chief Executive Officer of MBDA, said: “I am very proud of the way that MBDA has met both the technology and the industrial challenges presented by such a complex programme that involves different system variants and the cooperation of three countries. We are now providing our domestic and export customers with a highly cost-effective operational capability that is second to none. Such an achievement is thanks to MBDA’s global and fully integrated business model as well as to the enlightened programme coordination provided by OCCAR. The continued support of the French and Italian governments has also been extremely influential in ensuring the success story that Aster has now clearly become”.
Date: Dec 11, 2012