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Surface Vessel Weapon System
Aspide SAM
MBDA (Selenia) Aspide surface-to-air missile SAM
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The Aspide is an Italian medium range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile produced by Selenia (now part of the Alenia consortium). It is provided with semi-active radar-homing seeker. It is very similar to the American AIM/RIM-7 (Sea) Sparrow, but, at the moment of its introduction, the Aspide was provided with monopulse guide instead of the conic scan, which made it more resistant to ECM and more precise. This innovation appeared on the Sparrows only with the late AIM-7M version.

Due to this resemblance, and the fact that Selenia was provided with technology know-how about AIM-7 (of which it had produced c. 1,000 on license), has generally led non-Italian press to address Aspide as a Sparrow version: however, Aspide had original electronics, warhead and a new and more powerful engine.

Aspide, in its various version, was used both in the air-to-air role, carried by Aeronautica Militare's F-104 Starfighters in the apposite versions F-104S and F-104ASA, and in the surface-to-air naval role. In the latter it has been replaced by MBDA Aster.

In the mid 1980s, China imported a small batch of the Aspide Mk.1 from Italy, then signed an agreement with Alenia to produce the missile locally under license. In 1989, China produced its first batch of Aspide Mk.1 missiles using imported parts from Italy. However, due to the EU arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen Square incident, China was unable to purchase additional Aspide kits. China subsequently developed its own version based on Aspide Mk.1, designated as LY-60, and an air-to-air version designated as PL-10.


Aspide Mk.1:
Similar to AIM-7E, with Selenia monopulse semi-active seeker and SNIA-Viscosa solid-propellant rocket motor. This version was popular with export customers, and sold to 17 countries.

Aspide Mk.2:
Improved version with active radar-homing seeker. Development was shelved in favor of better missiles, such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

Aspide 2000:
Surface-to-air version of the Aspide Mk.1, used on Oerlikon Contraves Skyguard and Spada air-defense system.

Manufacturer: MBDA Missile Systems (Selenia - ealier)
Launching system: Albatros 8-cell box launcher

In service:
Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela

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An Aspide SAM was fired aboard ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi (C 551)

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An Aspide SAM was fired from the Albatros missile launcher aboard the Venezuelan Frigate Almirante Jose de Garcia (F-26)
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