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ASMPA-R Air-launched Cruise Missile Successfully Fired from Dassault Rafale B Fighter Jet

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ASMPA-R Air-launched Cruise Missile Successfully Fired from Dassault Rafale B Fighter Jet

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ASMPA-R Air-launched Cruise Missile Successfully Fired from Dassault Rafale B Fighter Jet
ASMPA-R Air-launched Cruise Missile Successfully Fired from Dassault Rafale B Fighter Jet

The France Ministry of the Armed Forces announced the successful test firing of the renovated ASMPA-R air-launched cruise missile on May 22, 2024. The missile, launched from a Dassault Rafale B fighter jet belonging to the Strategic Air Forces, marks a pivotal achievement in enhancing the nation’s nuclear deterrence. Sébastien Lecornu, the Minister of the Armed Forces, expressed his profound satisfaction with the successful test. He extended heartfelt congratulations to the dedicated men and women of the Ministry and the industrial partners involved in this accomplishment.

The ASMP (air-sol moyenne portée; “medium-range air to surface missile”) is a French nuclear air-launched cruise missile manufactured by MBDA France. In French nuclear doctrine, it is referred to as a “pre-strategic” weapon, the last-resort “warning shot” prior to a full-scale employment of strategic nuclear weapons launched from the Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines. An upgraded 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 Tête Nucléaire Aéroportée (TNA) 300 kt thermonuclear warhead.

The ASMPA-R missile, launched from a Rafale B fighter jet, completed a simulated nuclear raid without a warhead.
The ASMPA-R missile, launched from a Rafale B fighter jet, completed a simulated nuclear raid without a warhead. (Photo by MBDA Systems)

The ASMPA-R missile, developed by MBDA, was tested as part of Operation DURANDAL. This operation simulated a strategic nuclear raid, with the Rafale B executing a flight profile representative of such a mission. Notably, the missile was fired without its military payload to assess its performance under realistic conditions. Operation DURANDAL was conducted over French territory, involving A330 Phénix and Rafale B tanker aircraft from the Strategic Air Forces. These aircraft operated in a simulated combat environment, facing opposition from air-to-air and ground-to-air defenses provided by the Air Force and Space Command.

Monitoring and evaluation of the missile’s launch and free flight were meticulously carried out by the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA). Teams from the DGA Missile Testing sites in Biscarrosse, Hourtin, and Quimper played a crucial role in ensuring the test’s success. This test is part of the broader ASMPA renovation program, led by the DGA, aimed at enhancing the missile’s capabilities. This program ensures the continued credibility of France’s airborne nuclear deterrent in response to evolving threats. This effort will bridge the gap until the introduction of the 4th generation nuclear air-to-ground missile, ASN4G, anticipated by 2035.

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