On 29 December 2016, the Direction Générale de l’Armament (DGA) awarded Safran Electronics & Defense (previously known as Sagem) an order for new AASM Block 4 modular air-to-ground weapons.
This order requires the manufacturer to develop a new standard of the weapon, allowing a very significant reduction in cost with identical performance, and to double its production capacity, generating new jobs in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Brittany regions.
The AASM family consists of kits that are mounted on NATO-standard bomb bodies. The French Air Force and the Navy regularly use it to great advantage during external operations, in particular thanks to its flexibility of use, to its ability to function in any weather condition, and to its extreme precision.
The AASM comes in several versions, depending on the type of guidance: inertial / GPS, inertial / GPS + infrared imaging, and inertial / GPS + laser.
Also equipped with a propulsion kit, it can be launched at a safe distance to the target, and reach any kind of ground target, including moving ones. Firing is possible either in the framework of pre-planned missions, or on a target designated by the pilot while in flight.
Beyond ongoing deliveries for France and for export customers, this latest contract award allows the order of additional weapons in several tranches. Initial deliveries will take place in 2019.
To date, more than 1,700 AASM have been delivered to the French armed forces.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This contract is very significant for Safran’s AASM family of weapons because if the new version does indeed achieve the “very significant reduction in cost” mentioned by DGA it will remove the only known disadvantage of the AASM: its substantial cost.
Maintaining performance while significantly reducing costs will make it much more competitive than less-capable laser-guided bombs such as the Paveway family, and open up major new markets for the former Sagem.)