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ASRAAM

Short-range air-to-air missile

ASRAAM missile

The ASRAAM missile was developed to replace the AIM-9 Sidewinder

 
 
Country of origin United Kingdom
Entered service 1998
Missile
Missile length 2.9 m
Missile diameter 0.166 m
Fin span 0.45 m
Missile launch weight 88 kg
Warhead weight 10 kg
Warhead type HE-FRAG
Range of fire up to 50 km
Guidance Infrared homing

 

   The ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile), also known in US as the AIM-132, is a highly maneuverable heat-seeking short-range air-to-air missile produced by the United Kingdom’s MBDA corporation. It was developed in order to replace the aging AIM-9 Sidewinder. The ASRAAM entered service in 1998 and has since been deployed in at least one conflict.

   Originally the ASRAAM was a joint German, American, Norwegian, Canadian, and British project. However, with the end of the Cold War, the US, Norway, and Canada lost interest, and Germany determined to develop a missile with shorter range and more maneuverability.

   This air-to-air missile utilizes infrared homing, more commonly known as heat seeking. This means that the ASRAAM tracks its targets by following their infrared signature. It is also known as heat seeking, because infrared is radiated primarily by heat. However, unlike many other contemporary missiles, the ASRAAM can “see” the target, allowing it to distinguish between countermeasures and its target. Also, the ASRAAM has high resistance to electronic countermeasures.

   The ASRAAM’s effective 10 kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead can be triggered by either a proximity fuse or impact. It is just as powerful, if not more so, than the famous AIM-9 Sidewinder’s 9.4 kg one.

   A powerful 15.24 cm diameter low-signature rocket motor and minimal drag design propels the ASRAAM to speeds of up to and possibly even above Mach 3 (3 703 km/h). At this blindingly fast speed, it can rapidly hit most opposing aircraft.

   The ASRAAM’s sequences are 100% compatible with those of the AIM-9 Sidewinder. Thus, the ASRAAM can be used on any aircraft that can also operate the AIM-9.

   The ASRAAM possess Lock On After Launch (LOAL) ability. This allows the ASRAAM to be carried internally. Additionally, the target will probably not be aware that they are being targeted until after the missile is already in the air, giving the target far less time to prepare. In addition, the ASRAAM can be fired at targets behind its aircraft.

   Other recent air-to-air missiles, such as the AIM-9X Sidewinder or IRIS-T, are intended to be super-maneuverable short-range weapons. The ASRAAM still has high maneuverability, but couples it with a somewhat longer range (50 km, as opposed to the Sidewinder’s 35 km range), giving it great versatility.

   The ASRAAM is incredibly maneuverable. It is capable of turns of at least 60 G and can accelerate quickly. These characteristics give it a good chance of taking down fighter aircraft, which are capable of turns of a maximum of around 12 G.

   The ASRAAM is in service with the United Kingdom, Australia, and India. It can be used on the Panavia Tornado ADV, SEPECAT Jaguar, F/A-18 Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35 Lightning, and possibly the AV-8B Harrier II.

   So far there are no known variants of this missile.

 

Related weapons

 

   IRIS-T: after dropping out from the ASRAAM program, Germany developed the IRIS-T, a fast, super-maneuverable, short-range weapon. Since it entered service in 2005, a number of countries have adopted it. The IRIS-T is also compatible with all Sidewinder-equipped aircraft.

   R-73: known in the West as the AA-11 Archer, this infrared-guided Russian short-range air-to-air missile entered service in 1984. It has high maneuverability, a 7.4 kg warhead, speed of 3 073 km/h, and depending on the variant, a range of 20-40 kilometers. It currently has more than 15 operators and can be used on a wide variety of Russian fighters, interceptors, ground attack aircraft, and attack helicopters.

   AIM-9X Sidewinder: entering service in 2003, the AIM-9X is the latest version of the venerable Sidewinder. It features thrust-vectoring control, improved computing, and a reduced drag design for better speed, maneuverability, and resistance to countermeasures.

 

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ASRAAM missile

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ASRAAM missile

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ASRAAM missile

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ASRAAM missile

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ASRAAM missile

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ASRAAM missile

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ASRAAM missile

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