France Wields IR-Guided Hammer over Libya

 - October 24, 2011, 8:40 AM
Infrared 250-kg AASMs are seen on a Rafale test aircraft. The weapon has now been used in combat. (Photo: David Donald)

France’s Sagem announced that the infrared-guided version of its Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM, also known as Hammer) has been fielded by both the French air force and navy, and that it has been used operationally over Libya. Designated SBU-64 in the NATO system, the IR Hammer adds an imaging infrared terminal guidance seeker to the GPS/inertial guidance of the initial hammer version, the SBU-38.

In its SBU-38 form the 250-kg AASM became operational with the French air force in 2008, and with the French navy in 2010. It has become a key weapon in the Dassault Rafale’s arsenal, its rocket booster giving an effective range in excess of 60 km.

The SBU-38 was used over Libya from the start of the campaign, while the SBU-64 IR version was operationally deployed in July. Sagem is in the process of completing development of a laser-guided version for attacks against moving targets, which is scheduled for delivery next year.

Meanwhile, France revealed that, as of October 4, its Rafale, Mirage 2000 and Super Etendard fighters had between them released 15 Scalp cruise missiles, 225 AASMs and 950 GBU-series laser-guided bombs during missions over Libya. Attack helicopters had fired 431 HOT missiles, while naval vessels had fired around 3,000 rounds of 76-mm and 100-mm ammunition.