The Aspide (Italian name of Vipera aspis) name 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-7 Sparrow, using the same airframe, 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. Closed-loop hydraulics were also substituted for Sparrow's open-loop type, which gave Aspide better downrange maneuverability.
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 Aeritalia F-104s 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 In the latter it has been replaced by MBDA Aster. Naval Aspide launchers can be adapted to fire Sparrow by merely switching a single circuit board.
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 European Union 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.
Versions[edit | edit source]
- 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 Italian Army Skyguard and Spada air-defense systems.
Operators[edit | edit source]
- - Meko 360 ships, 150 Mk1 ordered in 1979 and delivered in 1983-1984
- - 100 Aspide 2000 ordered in 1996 and delivered in 2001-2004 - Nae São Paulo Aircraft carrier, Niterói Frigate class;
- People's Republic of China
- - 200 Aspide Mk.1 ordered in 1986 and delivered in 1987-1991. Technology used in development of LY-60/PL-10
- - 130 used in existing Skyguard system; ordered in 1991 and delivered in 1991-1992 (deal worth $114 m included 12 launchers)
- - 50 used on Esmeraldas Class Corvette; ordered in 1979 and delivered in 1982-1984
- – 72 used on Descubierta (Abu Qir) class frigates;ordered in 1983 and delivered in 1984; Aspide 2000 (36 Systems)
- - 75 for Kortenaer (Elli) class frigates; ordered in 1980 and delivered in 1981-1982
- - used on-board F-104S; used on 7 Spada SAM batteries; used on 24 Skyguard SAM batteries; used on 32 naval Albatross Mk2 SAM system
- - 320 ordered in 1988 and delivered in 1988-1997 for Skyguard Amoun SAM System; 175 Aspide 2000 ordered in 2007 and delivered in 2008-2010 part of 565 $ m deal, for modernization Aspide
- - 8 ordered in 1978 and delivered in 1983 for use on Albatross Mk-2 SAM on modernised Libyan frigate Dat Assawari
- - 18 ordered in 1995 and delivered in 1997 for Laksamana Class Corvette
- - Used in the frigate 501 Lt. Col. Errhamani (Descubierta); 40 ordered in 1977 and delivered in 1983
- - 25 ordered in 1977 and delivered in 1982 for Meko-360 (Atradu) frigate; other 10 ordered in 1982 and delivered in 1983
- - 200Aspide 2000 ground-based air defence system (10 batteries Spada 2000) ordered in 2007 and delivered in 2010-2013 part of 415 m Eur deal
- - 150 ordered in 1974 and delivered in 1979-1987 for use on Lupo (Carvajal) class frigates
- - 200 ordered in 1985 and deliverdd in 1987-1989 part of $230 m deal for 6 Spada SAM system; 51 Aspide 2000 ordered in 1996 and delivered in 1997-1999 for 2 Spada 2000 SAM systems
- – 75 orderd in 1984 and delivered in 1986-1987 for use on Ratanakosin Class Corvette; 24 orderd in 1986 and delivered in 1988 for use by Royal Thai army on 1 Spada SAM system
- - 144 orderded in 1986 and delivered in 1987-1989 for Meko-200T (Yavuz class) frigate; 72 orderd in 1990 and delivered in 1995-1996 for Meko-200T-2 (Barbaros class) frigate
- - 100 ordered in 1975 and delivered in 1980-1982 for use with Albatross SAM system on Lupo (Sucrè) Class frigate
References[edit | edit source]
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