In July, the French air force and Naval aviation began operational deployment of the infrared terminal guidance version (SBU-64) of the Hammer IR AASM modular air-to-ground weapon.
Developed and produced by Sagem (Safran group), with French defense procurement agency DGA acting as program manager, the Hammer AASM is a family of air-to-ground weapons, comprising a guidance kit and range augmentation kit fitted to standard bombs. This makes the AASM a high-precision guided weapon with a range exceeding 60 kilometers.
The AASM IR version features a guidance kit with an infrared imager in the nose cone, along with the standard hybrid GPS / inertial guidance systems.
Following the initial deployment of the Hammer AASM, the French air force and navy carried out the first firing tests of this version of the AASM under combat conditions, all successful.
Adding infrared terminal guidance to the standard hybrid GPS/inertial version of the AASM, the Hammer IR proved to be particularly well suited to precision strikes against targets with uncertain coordinates, offering impact accuracy to within a few meters, even when GPS signals were unavailable. Missions are planned using Sagem's own SLPRM mission planning and restitution system, already in service with the French air force and Navy.
The AASM has already been deployed in foreign theaters of operation, demonstrating its reliability and accuracy, including for long-range missions. Actual operations have shown that it limits collateral damage, and is able to handle high-value targets, previously reserved to cruise missiles, while also neutralizing enemy air defenses from safe standoff distance.
The GPS / inertial version of the AASM guided weapon, with 250 kg bombs, has been in service with the French air force since 2008, and with the French naval aviation since 2010.
A new version with laser terminal guidance, capable of engaging moving targets, is now completing development. Following qualification by the DGA, it will be delivered to French armed forces in 2012.
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