|Armement Air-Sol Modulaire
(Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon)
AASM family of weapons
|Place of origin||France|
|Used by||French Air Force
French Naval Aviation
|Wars||War in Afghanistan ; 2011 Libyan civil war|
|Manufacturer||Sagem Défense Sécurité|
|Unit cost||€164,000 (FY12) (~US$220,000)|
|Specifications (250 kg (550 lb) version)|
|Weight||340 kg (750 lb)|
|Length||3.1 m (10 ft 2 in)|
|Warhead||250 kg (550 lb) bomb body (Mk82, BLU 111 or CBEMS/BANG)|
|Engine||Solid rocket motor|
|15 km (9 mi) at very low altitude
55 km (34 mi) at high altitude
|Hybrid inertial/GPS in decametric all-weather version
Hybrid inertial/GPS + IIR or SALH in metric day/night version
|Accuracy||10 m (32 ft 10 in) CEP decametric version
1 m (3 ft 3 in) CEP metric version
The Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon) (AASM) is a French Precision-Guided Munition developed by Sagem Défense Sécurité. AASM comprises a frontal guidance kit and a rear-mounted range extension kit matched to a dumb bomb. The weapon is modular because it can integrate different types of guidance units and different types of bombs.
The basic version features a 250-kilogram (550 lb) bomb plus hybrid inertial navigation system (INS) / Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance. Other variants add imaging infrared (IIR) or semi-active laser homing (SALH) to increase accuracy; there are also versions with 125-kilogram (280 lb), 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) or 1,000-kilogram (2,200 lb) bomb bodies.
The program started in 1997, when the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement (DGA), the French defense procurement agency, launched an international competition on the design for the weapon. In 2000, a contract was awarded to SAGEM for an initial lot of AASM GPS/INS bomb kits, expected at the time to be delivered from 2004 and to enter service the following year.
A test campaign to validate in flight the main performances of this AASM variant started on December 6, 2004 and ended on July 26, 2005.
While demonstrating excellent results, this campaign showed the need to change some of the aerodynamic features of the weapon. To compensate for delays in AASM deliveries in 2008 France ordered dual-mode (laser- and GPS/INS-guided) GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II kits for integration with Mirage 2000D and Rafale fighter-bombers. The GPS/INS + IIR guided version completed its qualification tests on July 9, 2008 after three firings at the DGA's missile test range in Biscarosse. This 250 kg IR version performed a night launch from a Rafale fighter-bomber at DGA's Biscarosse test range in December 2010.
According to Sagem, the weapon was launched at a range of more than 50 km from the target, which was hit within one meter. A 125 kg version was successfully test fired on January 27, 2009, and a laser guided variant was air-launched for the first time on June 17, 2010.
According to French Senate's Comité des Prix de Revient des fabrications d'Armement (CPRA) cited by the daily La Tribune, the total cost of the AASM program including development costs and the delivery of 2348 kits is €846m. On that basis the per-weapon cost is $300,000 or twelve times the cost of the comparable American JDAM, although the latter has been manufactured in much larger quantities (~250,000 kits) and would be reasonable to expect a drastic reduction of the price of the French munition if larger contracts are signed and economies of scale are achieved.
The 2012 defence budget presented to the Senate reported the project had cost €592.2m (~US$800m) with a unit cost of €164,000, or €252,000 including development costs.
AASM comes in several variants according to its size and the type of guidance used.
- 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.
- As for guidance, the basic version combines data from a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and an inertial navigation system (INS) unit through Kalman filtering, achieving a 10 metres (32 ft 10 in) circular error probability (CEP). This "decametric" all-weather variant is complemented by a "metric" day/night fair weather version which adds imaging infrared (IIR) guidance that matches the target area with a target model stored in its memory for a 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) CEP.
- A third version uses semi-active laser homing instead of IIR allowing it to hit moving targets with more precision. It was qualified in April 2013.
On October 2010, these versions were given alphanumeric designations with the INS/GPS version becoming the SBU-38 (SBU=Smart Bomb Unit), the INS/GPS/IIR version becoming the SBU-54 and the INS/GPS/SALH version becoming the SBU-64; the system as a whole was renamed Hammer to make it more appealing to export customers.
The first order for AASM was placed by the DGA in 2000 for a total of 744 units; deliveries started in 2007 after a two-year delay in development. In 2009 a second order for 680 units was placed, by the end of that year deliveries had reached 334.
On 24 March 2011 it was reported that an AASM missile fired from a Dassault Rafale was used to destroy a Libyan Air Force G-2/Galeb light ground attack/trainer jet, the first Libyan warplane to challenge the no-fly zone during the 2011 Libyan civil war, on the runway just after the plane had landed at Misrata Airport.
In Libya, 225 AASM bombs have been fired
"Also referred to as the Hammer, the AASM weapon has impressed during the campaign to date. Incorporating a precision guidance kit and propulsion system, the design will eventually be available for use with standard bombs weighing between 125kg and 1,000kg, although a 250kg version is the only one currently in service. Sagem cites a range capability of more than 32nm from high altitude, or 8nm from low level. Launches can also be made from an off-axis angle of up to 90°, while up to six weapons can be fired against individual targets in a single pass and with just one trigger press." And "Libya represents the first opportunity for the French air force to employ the Thales Damocles targeting pod, although the Navy gave the system its combat debut over Afghanistan in late 2010."
- "Projet de loi de finances pour 2013 : Défense : équipement des forces" (in French). Senate of France. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
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- Sagem Défense Sécurité, Infrared terminal guidance version of AASM successfully completes final qualification firing test. July 16, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
- Philippe Wodka-Gallien (14 December 2010). "First night time launch of Sagem’s AASM guided weapon with infrared terminal guidance". Sagem. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
- Sagem Défense Sécurité, Successful first firing test of the Sagem AASM 125 air-to-ground weapon. February 12, 2009. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
- Sagem Défense Sécurité, First launch of Sagem AASM missile with terminal laser guidance a success. July 9, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
- (French) Dominique Merchet, "Une bombe française à 360.000 euros pièce - Sagem conteste". Libération. August 27, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "Analyzing the pros and cons of two contenders vying for the title of Canada’s next generation fighter."
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- Christina Mackenzie, "Rafale Fires First AASM". Ares. April 28, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
- "Libya live (16:22)". The Telegraph. 24 Mar 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2011. Retrieved 24 Mar 2011.
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- defense-update.com, October 12, 2011 France Spent Over 1,000 Bombs and Missiles in the 7 Month Libyan Campaign
- Flightglobal, June 14, 2011 France's Rafale fighter proves its 'omnirole' skills