ASRAAM Missiles Fitted to RAF Typhoon Jet MOD 45155903. The project started as a British-German collaboration in the 1980s. It was part of a wider agreement in which the US would develop the AIM-120 AMRAAM for medium-range use, while the ASRAAM would replace the Sidewinder with a design that would cover the great range disparity between Sidewinder and AMRAAM. The first extensive use of IR missiles took place ready fire aim pdf free download the Vietnam War, where the results were dismal.
One attempt to improve matters was made starting in the late 1960s by the Hawker Siddeley “Taildog”, initially a private project but later officially supported as SRAAM. SRAAM’s basic premise is that if pilots wanted to fire when the target was anywhere in front, then the missile should work in those situations. A variety of changes gave the L slightly better manoeuvrability, speed and range, but the main change was that the seeker had much higher tracking angles and allowed head-on engagements. In a series of tests in the mid-1970s, the USAF found that their existing AIM-7 Sparrow missile had an effective range against fighter targets no better than the ostensibly much shorter-range Sidewinder.
This was due to the need for the launching aircraft to keep flying towards the target in order to allow its radar to continue illuminating the target. The Fighter Mafia examined these results and concluded that they proved what they had been saying all along: a smaller, cheaper aircraft armed with simple but effective weapons is just as good as a more complex and expensive system, but could be purchased in greater numbers. The AMRAAM also presented a new problem: between the Sidewinder’s short range and AMRAAM’s long range was a significant gap. Moreover, AMRAAM was not really intended to be a snap-shot weapon like the Sidewinder, which remained desirable, and the completely passive attack of a heatseeker can be an enormous advantage in combat.
In the 1980s, NATO countries signed a Memorandum of Agreement that the United States would develop the AMRAAM, while a primarily British and German team would develop a short-range air-to-air missile to replace the Sidewinder. The rapid decline and eventual fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s led to considerably less interest in the ASRAAM effort. By February 1988 the US was already agitating for changes. In July 1989 the Germans exited the program, deciding that much greater manoeuvrability was required to compete with the R-73. They began redefining it purely to RAF needs, sending out tenders for the new design in August 1989. While ASRAAM was entering production, the US had decided that they too desired better turning performance and found the British unwilling to commit to further changes.
At the same time, the strengthening European economy and the resulting changes in exchange rates made the ASRAAM less financially attractive. Using some work carried out by the Navy, the Air Force then began their own program, AIM-9X, selecting the same Hughes seeker as the new ASRAAM. UK development and manufacture went ahead and the first ASRAAM was delivered to the RAF in late 1998. It equips the RAF’s Tornado GR4 and Typhoon. It was also used by the RAF’s Harrier GR7 force until its retirement. Whereas IRIS-T and AIM-9X concentrate on short-range maneuverability, like the SRAAM and Agile before them, ASRAAM represents a different design philosophy.
ASRAAM is intended to detect and launch against targets at much longer ranges, as far as early versions of the AMRAAM, in order to shoot down the enemy long before it closes enough to be able to fire its own weapons. Hughes before they were acquired by Raytheon. In 1995, Hughes and British Aerospace collaborated on the “P3I ASRAAM”, a version of ASRAAM as a candidate for the AIM-9X program. At the DSEi conference in September 2007 it was announced the UK MoD was funding a study by MBDA to investigate a replacement for the Rapier and Sea Wolf missiles. MBDA has agreed to jointly develop a new generation air-to-air missile with India.
In August 2016, the UK’s MOD signed a contract for a new variant of the ASRAAM specifically for the UK’s F-35B. This variant would replace the current one when it goes out of service in 2022. This new variant will be operationally ready on the Eurofighter Typhoon in 2018 and on the UK’s F-35Bs from 2022 onwards. UK signed a deal to procure 384 ASRAAM from MBDA to replace the ageing Matra Magic R550, to be integrated onto the SEPECAT Jaguar strike aircraft. 184 million contract to secure air-to-air missiles for the F-35B”. Matra-BAe AIM-132 ASRAAM: The RAAF’s New WVR AAM”. RAAF has successfully fired ASRAAM at a target located behind the wing-line of the ‘shooter’ aircraft”.