Until now, Spain’s military assistance to Ukraine has been limited to light armament and firearms (grenade launchers and machine guns but as it became known to EL Pais, which refers to its sources in the government, Spain is preparing to hand over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine something more interesting – Leo Leopard 2A4 tanks (hello to Germany!) and Aspide short-range anti-aircraft missile systems.
Even children in Ukraine now know what Leopard 2 tanks are, but Aspide systems are something little known. Let’s see what it is and what the Armed Forces of Ukraine will agree on.
In fact, the Aspide (yes, it’s an asp, or asp viper) is a family of European air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles which are based on American medium-range aircraft missiles AIM-7 Sparrow from Raytheon. AIM-7 Sparrow was developed in 1958 (64 years ago!) but is still in use today. Moreover, before the advent of the AIM-120 AMRAAM, it was NATO’s main air-to-air missile. It’s a good weapon, well-deserved, which shot down Soviet MiGs during the Vietnam War. But let’s get back to Aspide.
Aspide, same as, AIM-7 Sparrow is a missile with semi-active radar guidance. It was created by the Italian company Selenia (now Alenia Aeronautica as part of the Leonardo S.p.A.) in 1973. Interestingly enough that sometime in the 1980s, China bought a license from Italy to produce the Aspide Mk.1. Following the EU embargo in response to Tiananmen Square events in 1989, China has developed its own family of Aspide-based missiles, both surface-to-air (LY-60) and air-to-air (PL-11).
The missile systems used by Aspide missiles are the Italian Spada and the Swiss Skyguard-Sparrow. But there is one nuance. Switzerland, which is trying to maintain neutrality, has repeatedly blocked the supply of weapons to Ukraine, so do not expect to see in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Skyguard-Sparrow from Oerlikon Contraves AG. It is more likely that we will get Spada, because they are the ones who are in the arsenal of Spain.
Spain received 6 Spada systems and 200 Aspide Mk.1 missiles (range up to 10 km) in 1987-1989 and 2 Spada 2000 missiles and 51 Aspide 2000 missiles (up to 25 km) in 1997-1999. Both systems are now decommissioned. In addition, there are 9 Skyguard-Sparrow in Spain, but, as we have already noted, their transfer is unlikely.
Given the range, high speed of the missile, and the mobile chassis on which the launcher is located, it can be assumed that SAMs with Aspide missiles, whichever would be received by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, will be used to cover important military facilities – airfields, logistics hubs and so on, including cruise missiles. It is exactly how they are used by the armies of Italy and Spain.
We thank you, Spain!
Specifications of Aspide missiles
Starting weight – 220 kg
Mass of the warhead – 30 kg
Length – 3.7 m
Diameter – 0.203 m
Wingspan – 0.8 m
Range – 25 km (surface-air), 40 km (air-air)
Target height – up to 8 000 m
Flight speed: 4 Machs, 1324 m/s
Powerplant – solid propellant rocket SNIA-Viscosa
Guidance system – single-pulse semi-active radar target seeker device Selenia