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Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM)


 MBDA ASRAAM missile being fired

ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) is the most agile, modern air-to-air missile designed to dominate the combat mission from Within Visual Range to near Beyond Visual Range.

The combat concept behind ASRAAM is designed to give the pilot the ability to engage the enemy, fire and get away without risking himself or his aircraft in a dogfight. ASRAAM unique capabilities enable it to defeat all short-range missiles, existing or planned, in close-in combat. The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) is being procured as a replacement for the Sidewinder air-to-air missile. ASRAAM is in service with the RAF Tornado F3 and will be carried by Typhoon.

The first deliveries of pre-production training missiles were delivered to the RAF in December 1998, and are in use on aircraft integration programmes and at the F3 OEU. The first operational missile deliveries commenced in January 2002. The RAF Tornado F3 fleet has been equipped to operate with ASRAAM, and work is underway to integrate the missile on to Typhoon.

ASRAAM - NEXT GENERATION HIGH PERFORMANCE SHORT RANGE AIR TO AIR MISSILE

ASRAAM is a next generation high performance, Short Range, air-to-air missile which offers a great increase in performance over current systems, and provides combat superiority against all present and projected threats. The design is wingless, with aerodynamic tail control giving a fast, highly agile missile. Target acquisition and track is achieved by an advanced imaging infrared seeker and state of the art image processing. The Electronics and Power Unit, the brain of the missile, is one of the most powerful computer systems ever used in a missile. It offers all round target designation to complement the aircraft's own sensors, allowing targets to be acquired anywhere in the forward hemisphere. The missile has been designed as a hittile; however, target kill is enhanced by the high energy, fragmentation warhead which is initiated either by impact or by proximity to the target.

ASRAAM is delivered to the RAF as a fully assembled missile in an All-up-Round (AUR), hermetically sealed container. The missile has been designed to remain in its container throughout its life and to be ready for operational use without any preparation or maintenance. In the event of a missile fault, the complete missile is returned to industry for repair.

ASRAAM - A LOW RISK, LOW COST SOLUTION


ASRAAM offers a low risk, low-cost solution to all current AIM 9 users by virtue of its compatible aircraft interface; the missile can be fitted to any aircraft capable of firing AIM 9 without modification to the aircraft or aircraft interface. Greater performance and more advanced features are available for aircraft that can support a digital interface to the missile.

The ASRAAM programme was let at a contract value of around 800m. Deliverables include Ground Handling Training Missiles (GHTM), Acquisition Training Missiles (ATM), Telemetry Operational Missiles (TOM), Operational Missiles (OM) and service test equipment.

COMMERCIAL ASPECTS

Matra BAE Dynamics are the prime contractor for ASRAAM and manufacture the Electronics and Power Unit. Major sub-contractors include Raytheon Systems Ltd for the Seeker, Royal Ordnance the Rocket Motor, LFK GmbH the Sensor, Hymatic Engineering the Cooling System, Thomson-Thorn Missile Electronics the Fuze, Thompson DASA Wirksysteme (Germany) the Warhead and Lucas Aerospace the Actuator.

The main competition for ASRAAM on the world market is the US AIM-9X missile, still in development, and which uses a variant of the ASRAAM seeker, and the Israeli Python 4. Germany are also developing their own IRIS T missile to equip their Typhoon aircraft.

INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION

ASRAAM entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) F/A-18 Hornet aircraft in August 2004. The Hornet is the first American-built fighter to be equipped with a European air-to-air missile.

The ASRAAM system concept and design engineering allows for significant growth potential to the missile's capability throughout its life, not only on the Tornado, Typhoon and F/A-18 but also for the future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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