French defense procurement agency DGA has successfully carried out the first qualification firing test of the laser terminal guidance version of the AASM Hammer modular air-to-ground weapon built by Sagem (Safran group).
The test was carried out by the DGA’s missile test department at the Cazaux air base on May 31, with the Hammer weapon being fired from a production Rafale fighter. The target, a bridge pier located more than 50 kilometers from the release point, was illuminated by an airborne illuminator that was activated during the last few seconds of the weapon’s flight.
The AASM Hammer’s guidance was deliberately initialized by offsetting the target’s GPS coordinates by over 50 meters. Thanks to its navigation, laser spot detection and terminal guidance algorithms, the AASM hit its target to within a meter. Prior to the impact, the missile steered itself to a glide slope of 20°, preferred for this type of operational scenario.
Developed and produced by Sagem, with the DGA as contracting authority, the AASM Hammer is a family of air-to-ground weapons comprising guidance and range augmentation kits attached to standard bombs.
The GPS/inertial/laser guidance version, designated SBU-64 Hammer, joins the AASM range which already includes two other versions qualified for deployment by Rafale: GPS/inertial and GPS/inertial/infrared versions. The SBU-64 features a semi-active laser seeker in place of the infrared imager, plus dedicated algorithms that are activated during the terminal phase. This version of the AASM can be used to attack moving targets.
The AASM has been deployed in foreign theaters of operation, demonstrating its performance and reliability. During long-range missions on the Rafale fighter, the AASM has shown its ability to engage high-value targets, previously reserved for cruise missiles. It has also shown that it can neutralize opportunity targets, in short time loop, as well as enemy air defenses, day or night and at standoff distance.
The French armed forces will start taking delivery of the AASM SBU-64 at the end of 2012, as part of a contract that provides for the production of several hundred units.