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French frigate intercepts supersonic sea-skimming target

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A French MoD photo.

LE LEVANT, FRANCE (BNS): In a first-ever feat for Europe, a French naval frigate has successfully tracked and intercepted a supersonic target simulating an anti-ship missile flying at very low altitude.

The test, conducted by the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on April 4, witnessed the Navy's Horizon-class air defence frigate Forbin successfully engaging a GQM-163A Coyote supersonic sea skimming target (SSST) of the US Navy.

The target was launched from the DGA's missile test centre at Le Levant in the south of France and intercepted in flight by the Forbin's Aster 30 system, European missile maker MBDA, which produces the Aster family of surface-to-air missiles, said.

Another French Navy Horizon frigate, the Chevalier Paul, tracked the target and the missiles fired.

The test demonstrated the ability of anti-aircraft system PAAMS, equipped on the Horizon-class frigates, to protect a carrier battle group against most severe of anti-ship missile threats, the DGA said.

The test also marks a first for Europe with the two frigates being prepared for and then successfully carrying out a complex operational scenario, confronting a supersonic threat flying at sea-skimming altitude, MBDA said.

Both Forbin and Chevalier Paul frigates have been equipped with the Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) that deploys the Aster 30 and Aster 15 missiles. The PAAMS is a tripartite programme involving France, UK and Italy.

The US Navy worked together with French military to execute the mission.

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