SAMP / T air defense system: Mamba is waiting for Russians under the Christmas tree

SAMP / T air defense system: Mamba is waiting for Russians under the Christmas tree

In mid-December, the French media were full of headlines about the transfer of new Mamba air defense systems to Ukraine. French Ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins confirmed the next aid package and specified that the French and Italians would be jointly involved in the transfer of the systems.

The Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov spoke publicly about the request to receive SAMP / T weapons in an interview with the French edition Le Monde back in early December, and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky back in October substantiated the need to transfer air defense systems, including SAMP / T, during an appeal to the leaders of the G7 countries. Let us consider in more detail the capabilities of this system and its role in strengthening the air defense of Ukraine.

Production of the Mamba air defense system

SAMP / T short and medium range, also known as Mamba, is the result of a large group of European companies. The Eurosam consortium consists of MBDA Italy, MBDA France and the French company Thales, which is also engaged in the manufacture of Crotale air defense systems, which we wrote about earlier.

The development of the system started in 1989, and entered service in 2011. The operators of the system are France, Italy and Singapore, for the Ukrainian side the Italians will be involved in the transfer of radars, and the French – launchers.

At the same time, according to media reports, France has the largest number of installations – 32 units, and Italy has only 6. Singapore is armed with 12 systems. Recall that earlier the Spanish government agreed to transfer Italian-made medium-range guided missiles Aspide.

In May 2022, the SAMP / T air defense system was already in the news when the French government transferred the systems to Romania. Such actions were prompted by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and coordinated as part of the program to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense posture in Eastern Europe.

And in 2021, Turkey expressed a desire to acquire the Italian SAMP / T, abandoning the Russian S-400s. This confirms the high competitiveness of the SAMP / T system, because it is used by both NATO members and can be more efficient than analogues on the market.

Video using SAMP/T:

The design of the Mamba air defense system

SAMP / T air defense system: Mamba is waiting for Russians under the Christmas tree

The complex consists of 1 to 6 launchers (each contains 8 missiles), a Thales Arabel radar, a command and control vehicle, an automotive power generator and 2 maintenance vehicles.

The French Armed Forces designate this system as a means of covering the combat formations of troops and infrastructure facilities, like airports and seaports from the entire possible range of air targets. That is, the system is capable of destroying a variety of air targets: from aircraft and drones to cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of up to 600 kilometers. The system is maintained by 14 people, which is much less than the recent Patriot news star, which requires the involvement of 90 specialists.

Mamba is capable of detecting targets at a distance of up to 400 km and tracking up to 16 targets simultaneously (with simultaneous detection of up to 130). The system is based on a wheeled chassis. For the French version, it is the Renault Kerrax truck, and for the Italian Iveco Astra. It is an 8×8 Heavy Tactical High Mobility Truck (HEMTT) that has a wide range of applications in the military industry.

SAMP / T air defense system: Mamba is waiting for Russians under the Christmas tree

The SAMP / T system is capable of quickly eliminating the target, releasing 8 Aster 30 block missiles in 1 salvo in 10 seconds. Mamba will hit a drone or aircraft at a range of 3 to 100 km and destroy ballistic missiles at a distance of 3 to 25 km. The height of the defeat is from 50 m to 25 km.

The warhead of the rocket weighing 15 kg belongs to the high-explosive fragmentation type with a damage radius of 2 m. The explosion of the rocket and the capture of the target itself occurs in close proximity due to the programmed delay of the proximity fuse and the radar homing head. There is an updated version of the Aster 30N interceptor missile. It has increased the number of adjustment methods and improved pointing accuracy.

Technical characteristics of the Aster 30 block 1 rocket:

Characteristic Meaning
Length 4.9 m
Diameter 180 mm
starting weight 450 kg
Warhead weight 15 kg
Engine solid fuel two-stage
Speed 4.1 Machiv (1400 m/s)
Range of hitting targets 100-120 km
Defeat Height 25 km

Operational value

During an exercise in 2013, NATO forces tested the effectiveness of the system in action. SAMP/T destroyed a ballistic missile fired from an aircraft after passing 300 km of ballistic flight. The system can be considered a powerful enhancement to an air defense system, as it is highly automated, fast in action, and delivers heavy fire on a hostile target.

With Russia negotiating with Iran for the supply of ballistic missiles, Ukraine has already successfully negotiated an effective defense against them. Mamba is capable of intercepting not only the Iranian Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar, but so far the Russians have Iskanders.


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Launchers with Aster 30 block 1 missiles work from all angles, destroying targets in any direction. The missiles themselves are resistant to electronic countermeasures against the enemy, and the system is ready for emergency conditions and various obstacles. The complex is capable of inflicting a pre-emptive strike on targets due to its tactical and strategic mobility, while it does not take much time to deploy and withdraw from the strike.

SAMP / T air defense system: Mamba is waiting for Russians under the Christmas tree

Much fewer people are needed to manage the Mamba complex than for the same Patriot, and therefore, if the training time is the same, then more specialists will be trained in one period. This does not detract from the importance of other systems, but it makes it possible in war conditions to quickly obtain effective countermeasures and reduce both the number of casualties of the population and the damage from the destruction of critical infrastructure.

The presence of sufficient units of these weapons from Western partners allows us to count not only on stable supplies of the installations themselves, but also on the required amount of ammunition.

SAMP / T can be integrated with other air defense systems that Ukraine previously received from Western partners: the Norwegian NASAMS, the German IRIS-T, the French Mistral and Crotale NG. And this means that even more modern and high-precision weapons will protect our sky and leave fewer ways for the enemy to influence.

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