Sagem’s AASM (armament air-sol modulaire) rocket-boosted weapon family, also known as the Hammer, is being proposed as armament for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The weapon would be carried on a rack that fits under the wing pylon of the C-130 in a quick installation that requires no intrusive modifications. Nor does it require integration with the aircraft’s navigation system.
Known as SSA-1101 Gerfaut, the rack system is the brainchild of the AA/ROK company, which specializes in developing advanced defense technologies. Pylon and weapons rack specialist Rafaut joined the team, supplying its AUF2 twin-launcher that is in routine use on the Mirage 2000. Sagem (Safran Group, Hall 2a 228 and 252) provides the AASM, which has been proven in combat and is a core Rafale weapon.
SSA-1101 comprises two AUF2 racks mounted on a spar to allow the carriage of up to four Hammers on a pylon. The spar incorporates its own GPS and inertial systems to provide the necessary data to the weapon without having to interface with the aircraft’s own systems. The only modifications required are the provision of power and a cable link to the control unit, which can be either in the cabin or flight deck.
Hammer is considered an ideal weapon for the Hercules, as the 190-knot launch speed does not provide sufficient stand-off range for an unboosted weapon. The AASM has a range of around 19 miles when launched from 25,000 feet. The weapon has an accuracy of around 3.5 feet circular error probable (CEP).
The Gerfaut system is being considered for installation in the Armée de l’Air’s C-130s, which support special operations. A go-ahead is expected in the next few weeks for a major refurbishment program of its 14-strong fleet, which is likely to add a fully integrated turreted electro-optical suite with laser designator. If greenlighted, this program will remove the need for any other designation device for using the laser version of Hammer, such as the Damoclès pod originally studied by AA/ROK.
Arming the aircraft is a clearly stated wish of the special forces community, which originally favored the Raytheon Griffin munition. However, the SSA-1101/AASM combination is now also being examined.
Besides providing close air support (CAS) during special-forces operations, the system is envisioned as a means of providing emergency and temporary CAS capabilities. Current operations in Mali, where CAS is required on only an infrequent basis, is a good example of where the Gerfaut-equipped C-130 could provide cover on the few occasions when it is required, without the need to deploy fighters for long periods.
AA/ROK suggests that a formal request could be issued in about 12 months, leading to a decision to proceed around a year after that. In the meantime, Sagem has just received an order from Egypt to provide all three AASM versions (GPS/INS, GPS/INS/imaging infrared and GPS/INS/laser) for the 24 Rafale fighters under contract, with deliveries to start at the end of 2016. The weapon was also test-fired last year from an F-16.