The French Air force has successfully carried out a new unit evaluation firing (TEF) of the Rafale / Air-Sol Moyenne Portée – Amélioré (ASMPA) missile weapon system during a nuclear strike training mission.
The ASMPA missile is developed by MBDA. It is a supersonic stand-off missile designed to replace the earlier ASMP as France’s primary air-launched nuclear weapon.
During the test, an ASMPA missile without nuclear charge was fired at its target in the DGA’s Missile Test Center in Biscarrosse.
According to the France MoD, the test was conducted by a two-seat Rafale fighter of the 01/091 "Gascogne" Fighter Squadron that took off from Saint-Dizier’s Air Base.
The Rafale mission also featured all the characteristic phases of an airborne nuclear strike mission, including in-flight refuelling by a C135 tanker of the 02/091 ‘Bretagne’ squadron and low-altitude penetration.
Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.
The jet entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006.
Rafale can carry payloads of more than 9t on 14 hardpoints for the air force version, with a range of weapons including Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles. It can also bear Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Image: A Dassault Rafale of the French Air Force. Photo: courtesy of Tim Felce (Airwolfhound).