Air-Launched Weapons

AASM in debut firing from F-16

09 June 2014
A Sagem AASM has been successfully fired from a USAF F-16, an international first for the PGM. Source: IHS/Patrick Allen

Sagem's Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) Hammer SBU-38 precision guided munition (PGM) has been successfully launched from a Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, the first launch of the PGM from a non-French made aircraft.

The firing test was carried out by the US Air Force's (USAF's) 40th Flight Test Squadron, operating out of the test centre in Eglin, Florida, on 30 May, sources told IHS Jane's .

This successful launch is of key importance to Sagem in enabling it to offer the AASM to export customers equipped with the F-16. Currently, the only customer for the AASM is France which operates the PGM from its Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft. However, France's order was dramatically reduced due to budgetary constraints from a planned 4,200 units to only 1,728 - meaning the company needs to find an export customer before mid-2016 in order to keep its production line open.

Sagem have designed the AASM to be compliant with NATO Universal Armament Interface (NUAI) standards - aimed at facilitating the functional integration of new weapons, without modification to the aircraft, and therefore reduce associated adaptation costs. This allowed the AASM to be fired by the USAF F-16, with the firing taking part due to French and United States participation in a NATO 'Smart Defence' project dedicated to the NUAI standard. This project also involves the NUAI programme office at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Speaking to IHS Jane's , a US military source stated the firing trial had demonstrated the ease of operating the AASM from combat aircraft built to NATO standards.

Developed and produced in France by Sagem, the AASM PGM comprises a guidance kit and range augmentation unit fitted to standard 250 kg bombs. It is offered in three versions: SBU-38 (inertial and GPS guidance), SBU-54 (GPS-inertial and laser guidance) and SBU-64 (GPS, inertial and infrared guidance). Sagem also offers the AASM on 125, 500 and 1000 kg bombs. Fired at standoff distance day or night, under all weather conditions, the AASM offers a range exceeding 50 km. It can be launched at low altitude and highly off-axis, and can perform high-precision vertical strikes.

Since 2008 the AASM has been used in operations by French Air Force and Navy Rafale fighters in Afghanistan, Libya (225 fired) and Mali.

Related article: Safran Hammers Dassault



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