RAAF Kills ‘Over the Shoulder’ with ASRAAM
Key advances have been made in short-range air-to-air missiles and work well in combination with helmet-mounted sights. The combination of new wide-angle ‘staring’ seekers, exponential growth in onboard computer processing, 2-way data links, and the ability to lock onto a target anywhere within the pilot’s field of view, makes modern missiles like the Vympel R73/AA-11 Archer, Python 4/5, AIM-9X Sidewinder, and AIM-132 ASRAAM qualitatively different from their predecessors.
MBDA’s ASRAAM has taken a somewhat unique approach to these developments, optimizing itself for longer ranges that begin to overlap medium range missiles like MBDA’s own MICA, Raytheon’s AMRAAM, etc. Like the Israeli Python 5, the missile also leverages its sensitive seeker (shared with the AIM-9X) and Lock-On After Launch capabilities to give it the ability to engage nearly any target in view, without requiring extensive maneuvers by the launching fighter. If other aircraft sensors can cue the missile to fly to a specific location, which places the enemy within ASRAAM’s target acquisition cone, the missile’s engagement radius can even be extended to a 360 degree circle around the fighter.
Those capabilities were recently demonstrated by the Royal Australian Air Force, which purchased AIM-132 ASRAAM missiles for use on its F/A-18s. Their Air Combat Group recently as carried out the first in-service ‘Lock After Launch’ firing of an ASRAAM at a target located more than 5 km away, and behind the wing-line of the ‘shooter’ aircraft. The firing was conducted from an F/A-18 fighter aircraft, flying at low level and typical fighter speed. The result was a direct hit on the target. Source: Your Industry News.