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Aspide (the Italian name for the adder) 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.

Aspide launch.jpg
An Aspide multirole missile launched from a Venezuelan frigate
TypeMedium range SAM
Place of originItaly
Production history
ManufacturerSelenia (former) MBDA
Mass220 kg
Length3.72 m
Diameter234 mm

Effective firing rangeAbout 25 km
Warhead35 kg warhead

Wingspan80 cm
Speed4520 km/h (mach 3.7)

This resemblance, and the fact that Selenia was provided with the technology know-how of the AIM-7 (around 1,000 of which it had produced under license), has generally led non-Italian press to refer to the Aspide as a Sparrow variant. However, the Aspide had original electronics and warhead, and a new and more powerful engine. Even the control surfaces are different, replacing the original triangular wings, fixed in the air-to-air and instead foldable in the surface-to-air version, to a newly designed common cropped delta fixed version.


Aspide, in its various versions, 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 In the latter role it has been replaced by the MBDA Aster. Naval Aspide launchers can be adapted to fire the 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.[1] China subsequently developed its own missile family based on the Aspide Mk.1, with surface to air versions designated as the LY-60, and an air-to-air version designated as PL-10.

The rocket engine of the Aspide is produced by Turkish missile manufacturer Roketsan.[2]


  • 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.[3]
  • 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.


- MEKO 360 ships, 150 Mk1 ordered in 1979 and delivered in 1983-1984
- 100 Aspide 2000 ordered in 1996 and delivered in 2001-2004 - São Paulo aircraft carrier, Niterói class frigates
  People's Republic of China
- 90 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 (variant of Fincantieri Tipo 550); ordered in 1979 and delivered in 1982-1984
– 72 used on Descubierta (Abu Qir) class corvettes; ordered in 1983 and delivered in 1984; Aspide 2000 (36 Systems)
- 75 for Elli-class frigates (variant of Kortenaer-class); 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; 250 Aspide 2000 ordered in 2007 and delivered in 2008-2013 part of $65 m deal for Skyguard AD systems [4]
- 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 Aspide MK.1 ordered in 1977 and delivered in 1982 for Meko-360 Aradu frigate; other 10 Aspide MK.1 ordered in 1982 and delivered in 1983
- 750 Aspide 2000 for ground-based air defence system (10 batteries Spada 2000) ordered in 2007 and delivered in 2010-2013 part of 415 m Euro deal [5]
- 150 ordered in 1974 and delivered in 1979-1987 for use on Lupo (Carvajal) class frigates
- 200 ordered in 1985 and delivered 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
– 24 ordered in 1984 and delivered in 1986-1987 for use on Ratanakosin Class corvettes; 75 ordered 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 ordered 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 Class frigates

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-05-27. Retrieved 2006-11-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Roketsan Aspide Engine". Archived from the original on 2014-05-02. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-19. Retrieved 2006-11-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit