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Laser-guided AASM Hammer missile successfully test-fired

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The AASM under a Rafale. A DGA photo

PARIS (BNS): The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) has successfully carried out the final qualification test-firing of the AASM modular air-to-ground missile system in its laser terminal guidance version.

The precision-guided weapon, produced by defence firm Sagem, was test launched by a French Rafale fighter aircraft at the DGA's missile range in Biscarrosse on December 12.

The missile hit a remotely-piloted all-terrain vehicle which was used as the target.

The target was illuminated by the Rafale's Damocles pod during the final seconds of the AASM's flight. The vehicle was traveling at different speed, reaching 50 km/h at the time of impact, when it was more than 15 km from the Rafale.

The weapon was launched from the aircraft at an extreme off-axis angle of 90° and hit the target at an oblique angle, Sagem said.

"The success of this firing test culminates the qualification phase of the laser version, allowing Sagem to start delivery of the first production-standard AASM Laser weapons to the French air force and navy, for operational deployment in 2013," the company said.

The new GPS/inertial/laser variant of the AASM (NATO designation: SBU-54 Hammer) further expands the AASM family, which already counts two other versions qualified on Rafale: GPS/inertial and GPS/inertial/infrared.

The new weapon features a laser seeker in place of the infrared imager on the latter version, and also has tracking algorithms which are activated during the terminal phase, the French defence firm said, adding that it is capable of engaging moving land targets, or high-speed agile marine targets, with accuracy to within a meter.

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