French DGA Successfully Carried Out Qualification Firing Of Updated ASMPA Nuclear Missile
French DGA Successfully Carried Out Qualification Firing Of Updated ASMPA Nuclear Missile

French DGA Successfully Carried Out Qualification Firing Of Updated ASMPA Nuclear Missile

The French DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement, Directorate General of Armaments) successfully carried out qualification firing of the upgraded Air-to-Ground Medium-Range Strategic Missile (ASMPA) on 23 March 2022, without its warhead. Throughout its flight phase, the missile was monitored by DGA Essais Missile (missile trials) resources in Biscarrosse, Hourtin and Quimper, the ‘Monge’ test and measurement vessel, with the participation of DGA Essais en vol. The missile, developed by MBDA, was fired by a Rafale that took off from Cazaux Air Force Base 120, as part of a program managed by the French defense procurement agency (DGA).

The ASMP (air-sol moyenne portée; medium-range air to surface missile) is a French nuclear air-launched cruise missile. In French nuclear doctrine, it is called a “pre-strategic” weapon, the last-resort “warning shot” prior to a full-scale employment of strategic nuclear weapons. The missile’s construction was contracted to Aérospatiale’s Tactical Missile Division, now part of MBDA. ASMP entered service in May 1986, replacing the earlier free-fall AN-22 bomb on France’s Dassault Mirage IV aircraft and the AN-52 bomb on Dassault Super Étendard. ASMP entered service in May 1986. An improved version, the ASMP-A, was developed between 1997 to 2009.

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ASMPA on Rafale
ASMP-A on French Air Force Dassult Rafale Fighter

About 84 weapons are stockpiled. Carrier aircraft are the Dassault Mirage 2000N, Rafale and Super Étendard. The Mirage IVP carried the ASMP until retired in 1996. ASMP and ASMP-A is 5.38 m long and weighs 860 kg. It is a supersonic standoff missile powered by a liquid fuel ramjet. It flies at Mach 2 to Mach 3, with a range between 80 km and 300 km for the ASMP and 500 km for the ASMP-A depending on flight profile. The ASMP uses the TN 81 warhead, which has a variable-yield of 100 to 300 kilotons of TNT (420 to 1,260 TJ). In 1991, 90 missiles and 80 warheads were reported to have been produced. By 2001, 60 were operational.

An advanced version known as Air-Sol Moyenne Portée-Amélioré ASMP-A (improved ASMP) has a range of about 500 kilometres (310 mi) at a speed of up to Mach 3 with the new TNA (Tête Nucléaire Aéroportée) 300kt thermonuclear warhead. It entered service in October 2009 with the Mirage 2000NK3 of squadron EC 3/4 at Istres and on July 2010 with the Rafales of squadron EC 1/91 at Saint Dizier. 54 ASMP-A have been delivered to French air force. The ASMPA-R (renovated) project, launched in 2016, will see the missile’s range extended and a new 300kt thermonuclear warhead added.

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