On 6 October 2015, during its yearly Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense Conference, the US Missile Defense Agency bestowed the “Technology Pioneer Award” on the French and Italian teams behind the SAMP/T extended air defence system. This prize comes in recognition of the successful firing on 6 March 2013 of an Aster 30 Block 1 missile against a target representing a SCUD-type tactical ballistic missile, in liaison with the NATO command chain.
The aim of the firing was to demonstrate that the ballistic missile defence capability of the SAMP/T, and its interoperability with NATO through the use of Link 16, allow it to be integrated into joint forces and inter-allied operations.
The firing was carried out at the DGA's missile testing centre in Biscarrosse, jointly with the Italian 4th artillery regiment from Mantua and the French Air Warfare Centre (CEAM) at Mont-de-Marsan. It mobilized considerable resources from several DGA and NATO centres, as well as a US Aegis frigate.
The main strengths of the SAMP/T are its 360° area defence and its ability to simultaneously engage all types of short-range ballistic and conventional air targets. Developed and manufactured by Thales and MBDA through the Eurosam consortium, as a Franco-Italian cooperation, the SAMP/T system is in service in both countries, and is a key part of their contribution to NATO's ballistic missile defence programme.