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French Directorate General of Armament Qualifies AASM 1000 Munition for Rafale Fighter

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French Directorate General of Armament Qualifies AASM 1000 Munition for Rafale Fighter

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A Rafale B flight test aircraft carrying an AASM 1000 stand-off weapon under each wing.
A Rafale B flight test aircraft carrying an AASM 1000 munition under each wing.

The French Directorate General of Armament (DGA, Direction générale de l’armement) announced the qualification of the AASM 1000 GS munition (a 1,000 kg modular air-to-ground weapon with GPS and inertial guidance) and its support system. The AASM 1000 is designed to be installed on the US-origin Mk84 and BLU109 high-power bomb bodies, but also on the new developments in progress by the French company ARESIA (BA84 and P1000 bomb bodies). The AASM 1000 is one of the new capabilities integrated to the Rafale’s F4 standard, with qualification of the first increment (F4.1) scheduled for the end of January. It will be used by the French Air Force and Navy, in particular from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.

The Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (Modular Air-to-Ground Armament), commonly called AASM or HAMMER, is a French precision-guided munition developed by Safran Electronics & Defense. AASM comprises a frontal guidance kit and a rear-mounted range extension kit matched to a dumb bomb. The basic version features a 250-kilogram (550 lb) bomb plus hybrid inertial navigation system (INS) / Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance. The weapon is modular because it can integrate different types of guidance units and different types of bombs. In 2011, AASM was given the name HAMMER (highly agile modular munition extended range). Chosen for commercial reasons, the English acronym is also often used in French. The French pronunciation of “AASM” is Deux-A-S-M or A-deux-S-M.

Safran AASM or HAMMER Precision-guided Munition
Safran AASM or HAMMER Precision-guided Munition. (Photo by Safran Electronics & Defense )

The current model features a 250 kg bomb matched to a nose-mounted guidance kit and a rear-mounted range extension kit, containing a rocket booster and enlarged fins. There is also a 125 kg, first tested in 2009, and a proposed 1000 kg version. The AASM 1000 consists of a GPS and inertial guidance kit and a range augmentation kit. The latter, which uses a propellant, makes it possible to considerably extend the firing range compared to a non-propellant ammunition. Both kits are directly derived from the latest version of the AASM 250, now adapted to fit 1,000 kg bombs. The AASM 250 ammunition (250 kg version), in service with the French Air Force since 2008, has been successfully tested in combat in various theaters of operations.

The standard F4.1 Rafale fighter will be able to carry up to three AASM 1000 (one ventral and one under each wing). The development of the AASM 1000 ammunition was carried out with the active participation of technical experts from the French Air and Space Forces, the French Navy and the Service Commun de Munitions (SIMu), in order to take into account the recommendations and needs of the end users as early as possible in the industrial work. The French Air Force and Navy armorers carry out the assembly of the AASM 1000 and the parameterization of the ammunition according to the mission requirements. This new version of the AASM is developed by Safran Electronics & Defense as part of an 85 million euro contract awarded by the DGA in 2017.

Safran AASM or HAMMER Precision-guided Munition
Safran AASM or HAMMER Precision-guided Munition. (Photo by Safran Electronics & Defense )

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