Minister Delighted With New ASRAAM Missile For RAF
(Source : UK Ministry of Defence ; issued Jan. 18, 2002)

Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach today welcomed the agreement reached between the Ministry of Defence and MBDA UK Ltd (formerly Matra BAe Dynamics) to bring the new Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile into service this month with the Royal Air Force.

The RAF's Tornado F3 will be the first of our aircraft to be fitted with ASRAAM. The missile will also be one of Eurofighter's principal weapons when the aircraft comes into service.

Lord Bach said:

"I am delighted that the excellent ASRAAM missile is now entering service. It will provide a major advance in our short-range air-to-air combat capability, giving our pilots the decisive edge in air superiority well into the future."

"I am very pleased with the constructive approach adopted by MBDA and MOD officials. By adopting the best practices of Smart Acquisition, they have reached a speedy and successful resolution. We now have a robust and clear route map to get to the level of missile performance we need, which is precisely what we set out to achieve. By working to overcome our differences, we have achieved what is undoubtedly good news for the company and for our world class military aircrews."

Background Notes:

1. The delivery of the first batch of ASRAAM missiles marks the successful resolution of a contractual dispute between the Ministry of Defence and the missile manufacturer MBDA. The missile was scheduled to enter service in April last year but was not accepted by MoD on the grounds that certain performance standards had not been fully achieved.

2. In April last year, the then Defence Procurement Minister Baroness Symons called for a clear and robust route map to achieve the full operational capability required and enable a new ISD to be set. MoD and MBDA have worked constructively together since then and have now achieved precisely what Baroness Symons called for. The missile is now in service and will be ready for operational deployment this summer.

3. The first batch of missiles, for ISD, will be to an interim standard, which will nonetheless offer a significant improvement over the current Sidewinder.Delivery of production missiles to a higher interim standard will start in mid-2002. There will be a continued development programme with further software upgrades that will lead to full operational capability. MBDA will be carrying this work forward under its existing contract. (ends)

ASRAAM Enters Service With Royal Air Force

ASRAAM Enters Service With Royal Air Force
(Source : MDBA ; issued Jan. 18, 2002)

PARIS---MBDA has commenced first deliveries of the Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) to the UK's Royal Air Force, providing its aircrew with an unrivalled aerial combat capability.

A mix of operational and training missiles are being delivered to the RAF and the missile is now entering service. Tornado F3 aircraft are the first to be fitted with ASRAAM and crews will soon begin to train with the weapon permitting deployment to operational theatres later this year.

ASRAAM will equip RAF Tornado F3, Harrier GR9 and, eventually, Eurofighter combat aircraft as well as the Royal Navy's Sea Harrier FA2s. The missile is also being integrated onto the Royal Australian Air Force's F/A-18 fighters and missile deliveries will be carried out during 2002.

UK Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach today welcomed the news. In a statement, he said : "I am delighted that the excellent ASRAAM missile is now entering service. It will provide a major advance in our short-range air-to-air combat capability, giving our pilots the decisive edge in air superiority well into the future."

Alan Garwood, Chief Operating Officer for MBDA, said : "The RAF now has an extremely agile missile capable of engaging targets at high off-boresight angles and in heavy cloud clutter and countermeasures environments. ASRAAM sets the benchmark other missile designers aim to beat. " Garwood added : "We have worked closely with the Ministry of Defence and with the RAF to meet its need for rapid deployment of the most capable short range air-to-air missile in the world. That is what smart procurement is all about."

As part of the smart procurement initiative, a series of software evolutions of the missile have been agreed to ensure ASRAAM's world-leading edge will be maintained throughout its service life.

Production of ASRAAM is being undertaken at MBDA's Lostock facility in north-west England with missile development led from the Stevenage site, north of London. The programme will sustain hundreds of jobs at both MBDA and its major subcontractors as well as help retain leading edge air-launched missile design work.

Guy Griffiths, Managing Director of MBDA UK Ltd, said : "ASRAAM's entry into service represents a significant milestone for the new MBDA company. We have demonstrated our ability to overcome the challenges a complex development programme, such as ASRAAM, presents."

Background Notes:
ASRAAM is the first infrared-seeking air-to-air weapon developed in the UK which incorporates software-controlled state-of-the-art technology to defeat aerial targets in extreme conditions. The missile homes onto the infrared signature of the target using complex software image processing techniques to track the target and guide the missile to the selected aim point. The missile gathers the target's coordinates via the launch aircraft's sensors or pilot's helmet-mounted sight.

ASRAAM may be fired using a lock-before-launch mode or, uniquely, in lock-after-launch mode. The latter mode enables the missile to be fired at targets behind the launch aircraft and it is the only missile in the world to provide a 360 degree self-protection capability. ASRAAM is one of the first missiles to be integrated to the future Joint Strike Fighter in the UK for carriage in the internal weapons bay.

MBDA has 45 missile, missile system and countermeasures programmes in operational service and a further 30 in development, including the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missile and Aster anti-missile system. The group employs 10,000 across 12 main sites in Europe and the USA and has an annual turnover of Euro 2 billion and a forward order book of Euro 13 billion.

The company became a trading entity on 18 December 2001 following the merger of guided weapons groups Matra BAe Dynamics, Aerospatiale Matra Missiles and Alenia Marconi Systems. MBDA is owned by BAE Systems (37.5%), EADS (37.5%) and Finmeccanica (25%).


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