Austin wrote:MBDA SAMP/T anti-air system with Aster 30 missiles - Why is it better than Patriot?
SAMP/T as it currently stands cannot offer the entire breadth of the Patriot capability. There is no LR AAW/CA weapon analogous to the 160 km PAC-2 GEM/T which is still capable of performing the AAW mission against ECM unlike the TBM mission where it is a bit dated design. Granted the NATO Air-Forces don't want ground units to be doing long-range counter air for IFF and blue-on-blue concerns (because of disparate systems fielded by coalition elements) but individual users who lack the quality of these air-forces may want that for own self-defense needs although I'm sure the prospects of some NATO members doing or even wanting LR AAW at say 150-200 km range may scare the $hit out of NATO member AF pilots given how not all the air-forces upgrade or even maintain their IFF and other communication systems to the same standard, let alone the latest standard..(plus you have to worry about the Air Defense units themselves being to the latest or appropriate standard and then the competency of the operator and battery commander )
There is no TBM interceptor with SAMP/T, in service, that can reach out against targets in the 1200-1400 km range as the PAC-3 MSE can. Similarly, a 4 launcher Patriot Battery focused on the TBM missile can have up to 64 ready to launch interceptors while a 4 launcher SAMP/T battery manages only 1/2 of that. Then there is the advanced discrimination work down with the two of the latest builds PB-7 and PB-8. The one drawback the patriot had is/was the 360 degree radar capability given that it was a sectored system but that is changing now with LTAMD sensor which is no a program of record and has an export customer in Poland.A 360 degree Surveillance Radar is however integrated into the Patriot and has been used on multiple occasions for both long range surveillance of air-breathing as well as Ballistic Missile targets, although it is seldom actually deployed.
The best European alternative to the Patriot will be the MEADS once Germany places the TVLS order in the coming months (It too is an MBDA and Lockheed JV). Born out of the Corpse SAM concept it is really designed to be a more mobile Patriot-Lite with AESA radars and an open architecture. SAMP/T over the next decade will field more capable interceptors but the problem with the Franco-Italian investment in the system is the minimal testing that is done on the TBM mission. But MEADS too, like the SAMP/T lacks LR AAW capability.
However, the biggest advantages to prospective European customers for the Patriot is now to buy into IBCS and have a plug and play system with NATO systems ranging from MEADS to US Army IFPC and even THAAD. This will be true-Fire-Control level integration through a common command and control unlike a common language interface and data-link to share overlays and situational awareness as would occur between say a SAMP/T and a THAAD unit communicating over L-16. In about two years time, a THAAD AN/TYP-2 radar would be able to guide a PAC-3 MSE launched from a Patriot battery to intercept. This is not possible with the A-30. At best the SAMP-T can aspire to receive some sort of early-warning from the TPY-2 operator over Link-16. There is absolutely no IBCS analogous coming out the SAMP-T family that enables "any-sensor any-shooter" concepts as the Patriot and IBCS-beta has already shown with a dispersed Sentinel radar guiding a Patriot missile to intercept a cruise missile target outside of its radar's coverage. IBCS is expected to be fielded in the 2022 time-frame so it is not that far and in time for any new purchase. With SMART-L and other radars, the European contribution is much more significant on the sensor side than the interceptor or C2 side and the SAMP/T still lacks an AESA unlike MEADS which comes with 2 standard. For nations like Poland and Romania, another important aspect that favors the Patriot has been the fact that they can mix and match fire-units, interceptors and even C2 systems with the US which routinely deploys its systems to these countries and has the size and scale to share during periods of need. Neither France nor Italy deploy as often nor maintain so much surplus stock that they can share with other users during time of need. Nations like Poland, Romania or even Sweden who do not have an organic Air Defense design base and rely on host nation to move the needle with networking, command and control, integration and new sensor would value that as they would like to latch on to host-nation funded R&D as much as possible.