French FREMM Bretagne successfully launches Aster 15 missile

According to a tweet published by the French Navy on September 16, 2022, the FREMM frigate Bretagne successfully launched Aster 15 surface-to-air missile during an exercise.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 FREMM frigate Bretagne launching Aster 15 surface-to-air missile. (Picture source: French Navy)

Bretagne (D655) is an Aquitaine-class frigate of the French Navy. The Aquitaine class were developed from the FREMM multipurpose frigate program. Constructed from 2013 the frigate Bretagne was launched in September 2016 and commissioned in February 2019.

Unlike previous ASW variants of the FREMM class, Bretagne and her sister ship Normandie are fitted with SYLVER A50 launch cells (instead of SYLVER A43) able to accommodate larger Aster-30 surface-to-air missiles.

This provides both ships with a potentially enhanced area air defence capability, though both vessels still lacked the boosted variant of the Herakles multi-function radar (which was necessary to accommodate the full range of Aster 30) as well as a complementary fire control radar.

About the Aster 15 missile

The Aster 15 and Aster 30 are a Franco-Italian family of all-weather, vertical launch surface-to-air missiles. The name "Aster" stands for "Aérospatiale Terminale" (French company Aérospatiale having been the project's lead contractor before its missile activities were merged into MBDA).

The missiles as well as the related weapon systems are manufactured by Eurosam, a consortium consisting of MBDA France, MBDA Italy (both with a combined 66% share), and Thales (holding 33%).

There are currently two versions of the Aster missile family, the short-medium range version, Aster 15, and the long range version, Aster 30. The missile bodies are identical; their difference in range and intercept speed is because Aster 30 uses a much larger booster.

Total weights of the Aster 15 and Aster 30 are 310 kg (680 lb) and 450 kg (990 lb) respectively. Aster 15 has a length of 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in), rising to just under 5 m (16 ft 5 in) for Aster 30. Aster 15 has a diameter of 180 mm (7.1 in).

Given the larger dimensions of the Aster 30, a naval based system requires the longer tubes of the Sylver A50 or A70 vertical launching system (VLS). Additionally the American Mark 41 Vertical Launching System can accommodate Aster 30.