The French Rafale is one of the best fighter jets in the world, capable of doing many types of missions in different conditions, but what makes it a great fighter jet for air-to-surface missions? Let’s take a look at its HAMMER air-to-surface weapon system.
The development of HAMMERs started in 2000. In 2008, the INS/GPS guidance system’s first iteration went into service. The version with INS/GPS/infrared guiding system was introduced in 2011, and the version with INS/GPS guidance system went into service in 2013. The HAMMER mid-life upgrade program was the subject of research that started in 2016; it was broadened to cover the creation of new versions in 2017. Three different guiding systems are available: an auxiliary laser guidance system, an auxiliary infrared guidance system, an inertial navigation system (INS), plus a global positioning system (GPS).
]HAMMER propulsion system is fitted at the rear of the missile and consists of a solid rocket motor and four winglets for flight control.
AASM comes in several variants according to its size and the type of guidance used.
- The current model features a 250 kg bomb matched to a nose-mounted guidance kit and a rear-mounted range extension kit, containing a rocket booster and enlarged fins. There is also a 125 kg, first tested in 2009, and a proposed 1000 kg version.
- As for guidance, the basic version combines data from a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and an inertial navigation system (INS) unit through Kalman filtering, achieving a 10 metres (32 ft 10 in) circular error probability (CEP). This “decametric” all-weather variant is complemented by a “metric” day/night fair weather version which adds infrared homing (IIR) guidance that matches the target area with a target model stored in its memory for a 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) CEP.
- A third version uses laser guidance instead of IIR allowing it to hit moving targets with more precision. It was qualified in April 2013.