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 In the latter it has been replaced by MBDA Aster.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.
Rocket engine of the Aspide is produced by Roketsan, Turkish missile manufacturer.