The AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile is an infrared homing
Infrared homing
Infrared homing refers to a passive missile guidance system which uses the emission from a target of electromagnetic radiation in the infrared part of the spectrum to track and follow it. Missiles which use infrared seeking are often referred to as "heat-seekers", since infrared is just below the...

 ("heat seeking") air-to-air missile
Air-to-air missile
An air-to-air missile is a missile fired from an aircraft for the purpose of destroying another aircraft. AAMs are typically powered by one or more rocket motors, usually solid fuelled but sometimes liquid fuelled...

, produced by MBDA
MBDA is a missile developer and manufacturer with operations in France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and the United States. It was formed by a merger of Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles , Finmeccanica and Matra BAe Dynamics in December 2001. In 2003 the company had 10,000 employees...

. It is currently in service in the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) and Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force is the air force branch of the Australian Defence Force. The RAAF was formed in March 1921. It continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps , which was formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF has taken part in many of the 20th century's major conflicts...

 (RAAF), replacing the AIM-9 Sidewinder
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

. The project started as a British-German collaboration in the 1980s; eventually the Germans left the project due to concerns over the missile's performance. The British proceeded on their own, and the missile was introduced into RAF service in 1998. ASRAAM was developed to have longer range and higher speed than the Sidewinder at the expense of some maneuverability.


In the 1980s, NATO countries signed a Memorandum of Agreement
Memorandum of Agreement
A memorandum of agreement or cooperative agreement is a document written between parties to cooperatively work together on an agreed upon project or meet an agreed objective. The purpose of an MOA is to have a written understanding of the agreement between parties.An MOA is a good tool to use for...

 that the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 would develop a medium-range air-to-air missile to replace the AIM-7 Sparrow
AIM-7 Sparrow
The AIM-7 Sparrow is an American, medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile operated by the United States Air Force, United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, as well as various allied air forces and navies. Sparrow and its derivatives were the West's principal beyond visual...

, while Britain and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 would develop a short-range air-to-air missile to replace the AIM-9 Sidewinder. The US design developed as the AIM-120 AMRAAM
The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM , is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Designed with the same form-factor as the previous generation of semi-active guided Sparrow missiles, it is a fire-and-forget...

, while the UK-German design started as the AIM-132 ASRAAM.

The starting point for the UK portion of the ASRAAM design was an experimental short-range missile designed by Hawker Siddeley in the 1970s, SRAAM/Taildog
Hawker Siddeley SRAAM
The Short Range Air-to-Air Missile is an experimental British infrared homing air-to-air missile, developed between 1968 and 1980 by Hawker Siddeley Dynamics. It was designed to be very manoevrable for use at short range in a dogfight situation...

. The SRAAM contract was cancelled in 1974, but retained as a technology demonstration program. The German contribution to ASRAAM was a new advanced seeker.

Unlike SRAAM, outright maneuverability was no longer the main concern. The new AIM-120 had a fairly long range and could be expect to be fired against targets around 20 miles away, while SRAAM and Sidewinder were much shorter-range weapons with useful ranges of only a few miles. There was a fairly large range gap between the two designs that the UK-German team felt was the most important problem to solve. Although portions of the original SRAAM design were used, the airframe was extensively redesigned to produce a missile with less maneuverability, but greater speed and range, closing the distance gap as well as making it difficult to avoid simply because it was so fast. The new ASRAAM did not use the thrust vectoring system of SRAAM but used conventional aerodynamic surfaces, in the form of four small delta-wings at the extreme rear of the missile.

While ASRAAM was being developed, reunification of Germany gave the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 their first look at the Russian Vympel R-73
Vympel R-73
The Vympel R-73 developed by Vympel machine-building design bureau, is the most modern Russian short-range air-to-air missile.-Development:...

 missile, known in the west as the AA-11 Archer. This proved to be a far more advanced short-range attack weapon than either Sidewinder or the ASRAAM, being the first air launched missile capable of true "dogfighting" capability, meaning that it was capable enough to be utilized as a legitimate alternative to typical in-close gun/cannon fire. It was clearly able to outperform all operational Western short-range IR tracking missiles - particularly in the ability to guide in high off-axis attacks, but also in terms of field of view, acquisition range, maneuverability, ease of target designation, and target lock-on. Concluding that they needed a missile with better performance than the Archer, the UK-German partnership broke down in the early 1990s, with the Luftwaffe deciding in 1995 to produce a new, greatly improved air-to-air missile, the IRIS-T
The IRIS-T is a German-led program to develop a short-range air-to-air missile to replace the venerable AIM-9 Sidewinder found in some of the NATO member countries...

 built by Diehl BGT Defence
Diehl BGT Defence
Diehl BGT Defence GmbH & Ko KG is a German arms manufacturer and a subsidiary of the Diehl Stiftung GmbH with headquarters in Überlingen. Diehl BGT Defence produces mainly missiles and ammunition....

. Due to the numerous developmental delays caused by the UK-German bickering over ASRAAM design with no solution in sight, and in light of threat of Archer, the US could not wait any longer and began development of their own improved version of the Sidewinder, the AIM-9X in 1990.

With the German exit from the ASRAAM project, the UK sought a new source for the ASRAAM seeker and selected a Hughes focal plane array imaging infrared seeker. Somewhat ironically, Hughes used the same technology in their winning submission for AIM-9X, so the ASRAAM and the AIM-9X both use the same Hughes-developed seeker. Raytheon also proposed a seeker for ASRAAM and submitted an AIM-9X proposal, but was not selected. However, Raytheon ultimately purchased Hughes and is now the producer of seekers for both ASRAAM and AIM-9X.

In January 1995 British Aerospace Dynamics, who had purchased Hawker Siddeley, arranged for financing from the British Government to enter the ASRAAM in the AIM-9X contest. The testing concluded in June 1996, with the result that the ASRAAM did not meet the AIM-9X in terms of off-axis capabilities, and the project was dropped from US contention.

UK development and manufacture went ahead regardless, and the first ASRAAM was delivered to the RAF in late 1998. It equips the RAF's Tornado GR4
Panavia Tornado
The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy...

 and Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

. It was also used by the RAF's Harrier GR7 force until its retirement.
In February 1998 the British-French Matra British Aerospace consortium won a contract to supply the ASRAAM to the Royal Australian Air Force for use on their F/A-18 Hornet
F/A-18 Hornet
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to dogfight and attack ground targets . Designed by McDonnell Douglas and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter's YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and...

s where the improved ASRAAM, the Rafael Python 4 and the AIM-9X were competitively evaluated, with the ASRAAM selected over the other two contenders.

In March 2009 the Royal Australian Air Force successfully carried out the first in-service 'Lock After Launch' firing of an ASRAAM at a target located behind the wing-line of the ‘shooter’ aircraft.


The main improvement, which was also made on the latest version of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, is a new focal plane array FPA (128x128 resolution imaging infrared) seeker developed by Hughes before they were acquired by Raytheon
Raytheon Company is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics. It was previously involved in corporate and special-mission aircraft until early 2007...

. This seeker has a long acquisition range, high countermeasures resistance, approximately 90 degrees off-boresight lock-on capability, and the possibility to designate specific parts of the targeted aircraft (like cockpit, engines, etc.). The ASRAAM also has a LOAL (Lock-On After Launch) ability which is a distinct advantage when the missile is carried in an internal bay such as in the upcoming F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability...



In 1995, Hughes
Hughes Aircraft
Hughes Aircraft Company was a major American aerospace and defense contractor founded in 1932 by Howard Hughes in Culver City, California as a division of Hughes Tool Company...

 and British Aerospace
British Aerospace
British Aerospace plc was a UK aircraft, munitions and defence-systems manufacturer. Its head office was in the Warwick House in the Farnborough Aerospace Centre in Farnborough, Hampshire...

 collaborated on the "P3I ASRAAM" - a version of ASRAAM as a candidate for the AIM-9X program. The P3I would have been very much like the AIM-132, but with the addition of thrust vectoring to provide increased agility and to carry a larger warhead to meet the requirements expressed by the US Navy led AIM-9X program. The ultimate winner was the Hughes submission using the same seeker but using the rocket motor, fuze and warhead of the AIM-9M. The latter was a US Air Force stipulation to ease the logistics burden and save by reusing as much as possible of the existing AIM-9 Sidewinder — of which 20,000 remained in the US inventory.

Potential future development

At the DSEi conference in September 2007 it was announced the UK MoD was funding a study by MBDA
MBDA is a missile developer and manufacturer with operations in France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and the United States. It was formed by a merger of Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles , Finmeccanica and Matra BAe Dynamics in December 2001. In 2003 the company had 10,000 employees...

 to investigate a replacement for the Rapier
Rapier missile
Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and Royal Air Force. Entering service in 1971, it eventually replaced all other anti-aircraft weapons in Army service; guns for low-altitude targets, and the English Electric Thunderbird, used against longer-range and...

 and Sea Wolf
Sea Wolf missile
Sea Wolf is a naval guided missile system designed and built by BAC, later to become British Aerospace Dynamics . It is an automated point-defence weapon system designed as a final line of defence against both sea-skimming and high angle anti-ship missiles and aircraft...

 missiles. The Common Anti-Air Modular Missile
Common Anti-Air Modular Missile
The Common Anti-Air Modular Missile is a Surface-to-air missile and Air-to-air missile made by MBDA for all three branches of the British Armed Forces, scheduled to enter service from 2016...

(CAMM), would share components with ASRAAM.

MBDA has agreed to jointly develop a new generation air-to-air missile with India.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.