The weapon was first tested on 28 August 1972, and entered service in October of that year. Between 80 and 100 bombs were manufactured for use by French tactical aircraft.
The AN-52 was 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in) long and weighed 455 kg (1,003 lb). It shared the MR 50 CTC (charge tactique commune - common tactical warhead) warhead of the Pluton missile, with two yield options: a low-yield version with an explosive yield of 6 to 8 kilotons and a higher-yield version with a 25 kt yield. It was carried by Dassault Mirage IIIE, SEPECAT Jaguar A, and Dassault Super Étendard aircraft. It was also temporarily carried by the first 30 Dassault Mirage 2000N-K1 nuclear-strike fighters, pending introduction of the standard Mirage 2000N-K2 version, which was armed with the ASMP nuclear cruise missile.
It was retired in 1992 in favour of the ASMP missile.