SAAM-FR Technical Information
The French Navy variant of the SAAM system, the SAAM-FR, has been installed on board the French Aircraft Carrier "Charles de Gaulle" to ensure its self-defence.
SAAM-FR is based on the Aster 15N (N for Navalised).
The Fire Control System is based on the Arabel X Band Multifunctional Radar and is in communication with the Combat Management System of the Carrier (Senit VIII System).
The Arabel Radar is at the top of dedicated mast and a Sylver launcher has been installed in a place specially prepared for it.
The installation of the first of class SAAM-FR system on board of the Charles de Gaulle was carried out in 1999.
Aster is a two-stage missile composed of the body of the missile itself and a booster. The difference between Aster 15 and 30 is only a difference of the booster. For the Aster 30, the booster provides a longer impulse giving the missile the possibility to reach targets at longer ranges. Aster 30 is used for local area defence interceptions when Aster 15 is used for self defence interceptions.
As detailed in the figure beside, the Aster terminal dart integrates an active seeker, a cruise motor, an up link transmitter to receive the position of the target before the seeker can detect it and a warhead. But the most important aspect of Aster is the "PIF" (pilotage en force) system. Aster is the only missile in the world to use such a system that provides very high interception performances even against high manoeuvrable targets, such as sea skimmer missiles.
The PIF system is composed of four lateral thrusters that, on request, creates a lateral force in any direction that allows Aster to get closer to its target without high acceleration manoeuvres and decreases the reaction time necessary.
Another characteristic of this missile is its vertical launch. When firing, after it exits the Sylver vertical system, the fire control radar, Arabel or Empar, provides Aster with data to allow it to calculate its trajectory toward the target, and changes direction by commanding booster exhausts positions.
Then after the booster has given enough impulse to the terminal dart, the booster is separated and of the cruise propeller of the terminal dart is initiated.
Finally, when Aster has sufficiently approached the target being guided by the system radar, it switches on its seeker that provides an active seeking terminal guidance toward the target that Aster reaches with extremely high precision using its PIF system.
When FSAF co-operation started in 1989, ARABEL was chosen to be the fire control radar for both SAAM-FR and SAMP-T system.
The naval variant has been first installed on board the French Navy Ship "Ile d'Oléron". A second radar was also installed on board French Aircraft Carrier "Charles de Gaulle".
The terrestrial variant of ARABEL has been integrated in the Fire control system of SAMP-T.
Arabel is a multifunctional radar operating in X Band. It has a high performance 2D Electronic Scan Antenna and assume detection and tracking of targets.
It is also responsible, when a missile is fired, for transmitting via the Up-Link transmitter, messages to the missile to renew missile data in order to allow Aster to calculate a trajectory toward the designated target and before Aster can detect it and lock on it with its own seeker
The FSAF Vertical launch system, called SYLVER -SYstème de Lancement VERtical-, contains eight Aster missiles.
Two variants have been created, one for naval FSAF systems SAAM-IT and SAAM-FR and another one for terrestrial system SAMP-T.
When the Aster 30 missile was designed, SYLVER was adapted to be able to launch this new missile variant and is part of the SAMP-T and the PAAMS systems.
It is composed of eight cylinders that are filled with Aster canisters containing the missiles itself. At its top, eight traps are automatically opened one by one when a missile is fired. At its bottom, a gaz exaust system expulses toxic gas comming from missile booster at its launch.