French Air Force Test Fires Improved Nuclear Capable ASMPA-R Missile from Rafale B

Defense minister clarifies test pre-planned, not in response to Putin's nuclear games.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 06:19 AM, May 23, 2024
  • 747
French Air Force Test Fires Improved Nuclear Capable ASMPA-R Missile from Rafale B
Improved ASMPA-R test firing @France MoD

In a demonstration of its airborne nuclear deterrent capability, the French Air Force conducted a test firing of the improved, nuclear-capable ASMPA-R medium-range supersonic air-to-surface missile from a Rafale B aircraft on May 22.

During the test firing, an ASMPA-R missile (without a nuclear warhead) was launched by a Rafale B of the French Air and Space Force as part of the DURANDAL operation, aimed at representing a strategic raid. This exercise is part of France's ongoing efforts to modernize and strengthen its nuclear arsenal, assessing the missile's performance and accuracy in a simulated operational environment.

Developed under the leadership of the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the ASMPA-R renovation program, supported by the military programming law (LPM), ensures the continued reliability and effectiveness of France's nuclear deterrent capabilities amidst evolving security challenges.

Supervised by DGA means from its missile test sites at Biscarrosse, Hourtin, and Quimper, the test firing involved closely monitoring the trajectory and performance of the missile. The simulated nuclear incursion, comprising A330 Phoénix tankers and Rafale B fighters of the Strategic Air Force (Forces Aériennes Stratégiques), encountered opposition from French Army ground-to-air systems and French Air and Space Force interceptor fighters. The exercise concluded with the penetration of the raiding force and the launch of the ASMPA-R missile.

Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the French Armed Forces, clarified on his social networks that the evaluation firing had been planned long in advance, as stipulated in the military programming law, dispelling implications of a reaction to recent nuclear games ordered by Putin.

The ASMPA-R variant, featuring an extended range and a new 300 kt thermonuclear warhead, is the latest evolution of the ASMPA missile. This missile is set to equip the French Air and Space Force’s Strategic Air Forces (FAS) and the French Navy’s Nuclear Air and Naval Force (FANu). Previous test-fires of the ASMPA-R took place in December 2021 and March 2022, making this the third executed test-fire.

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