AS 30

Short-range, laser-guided, air-to-surface missile.

Development

The AS 30L (laser-guided) variant is the third-generation of another family of French air-to-surface weapons, designed to penetrate hardened targets. The first-generation AS 20 was a 132 kg radio-command guided missile that entered service in the mid-1950s. The second-generation AS 30 missile was considerably larger at 520 kg, entering service around 1960. This early version of AS 30 used the same radio-command guidance system as the AS 20, but a later variant incorporated an aircraft-mounted InfraRed (IR) tracker into the guidance loop, although the pilot still had to maintain the target in the centre of his sight throughout missile flight. AS 30L is the third-generation system and, with the aid of a target designator carried on the launch aircraft, a co-operative aircraft or ground-based designation system, allows the pilot to manoeuvre after missile launch to remain at a safe distance from the target area. The overall AS 30L system comprises of two new major elements: the TMV 585 Ariel laser guidance unit developed by Thomson-CSF and fitted in the nose of the missile; and the jointly developed Thomson-CSF and Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin Electronics and Missiles) Laser Designator Pod (LDP), known also as the ATLIS 2 (Automatic Tracking Laser Iluminating System). Later development by Thomson-CSF produced a new designator in order to give the system a day and night capability. The new pod was called the Convertible Laser Designation Pod (CLDP), it was designed to have a rapid interchange of head, which could be fitted with a multispectral TV camera for daytime use or an IR camera for night-time use. Although these are the known designators in use, the AS 30L is designed to be compatible with any airborne or ground-based designating system using a 1.06 µm laser. Development of the AS 30L began in 1974, with flight trials of the ATLIS 2 pod and unguided AS 30L missiles taking place in 1977. The first guided firing took place in 1980. The missile used was a converted AS 30 missile and another seven converted missiles were used in subsequent flight trials. In 1983 Aerospatiale completed a manufacturers flight test programme involving 14 AS 30L launches. The French Air Force began its own qualification/acceptance flight demonstrations with the AS 30L in early 1984 and initial production missiles began delivery later that year. Operational evaluation was carried out from 1985 to 1987 and AS 30L entered service in 1988. In that same year the first night-time firing was carried out using a Thomson-CSF CLDP, equipped with an Imaging InfraRed (IIR) camera instead of the daytime TV camera. Carrier trials with the Super Etendard aircraft were completed in 1994 and AS 30L entered service with the French Navy in 1996. Qualification was achieved in 1985 on the Jaguar, in 1985 and 1986 on the export version of the Mirage F1 and the Mirage 2000, in 1992 on F-16 Fighting Falcon and 1993 on the Mirage 2000D. Since then it has also been cleared for carriage on Rafale, Super Etendard, Tornado GR. Mk 1 and possible AMX aircraft. In the case of the F-16 Fighting Falcon successful night firings were carried out using a Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) Sharpshooter pod.

Description

The AS 30L is a short-range, laser-guided, air-to-surface missile powered by a solid propellant motor and armed with a High Explosive (HE) penetrating warhead. It is cylindrical in shape with a pointed nose and has four clipped swept delta-wings mid-body and four small clipped delta tailfins. The missile’s body consists of two major sections, which are stored and delivered in separate containers. The front section which is packed with the four wings contains the nose-mounted laser seeker, guidance computer, fuzing system, the 240 kg HE warhead and the safety and arming mechanism. The second container carriers the aft section which contains the SNPE-designed solid-propellant sustainer motor whose exhaust passes through the solid-propellant booster motor, the exhaust from which is emitted through two nozzles arranged in the horizontal plane on either side of the main exhaust. At the rear end of the sustainer exhaust pipe are four small electromagnetic-actuated jet deflectors for flight control. Positioned around the motor exhausts are the four in-line stabilising fins, roll gyro, control and actuator system and the thermal battery. The AS 30L missile is 3.65 m long, has a body diameter of 342 mm, a wing span of 1 m and a launch weight of 520 kg. It is fitted with the same 240 kg HE warhead that was developed for use in the AS 30 missile. This is thought to be derived from a 250 kg GP bomb. It is initiated by a fuzing system which can be set for impact or delayed action to ensure penetration of the target before the explosive charge is detonated. Mid-course guidance is inertial, followed by terminal phase semi-active laser homing. The terminal phase of the missile’s flight is controlled by the TMV 585 Ariel laser guidance seeker operating in conjunction with the target designator. Laser radiation reflected from the target is collected through the seeker dome and reflected by an axial gyrostabilised mirror to the detection cells. The cells measure the angle between missile axis and flight line to target. Once the missile receives a sufficient level of reflected energy as it approaches the target, the missile locks on and switches to terminal mode. In the case of short-range targets this lock on can be achieved before launch and the missile fired in a locked on mode. The LDP/ATLIS 2 and CLDP pods are designed to perform acquisition, identification and automatic tracking operations on a ground target selected by the pilot. The pod, which is normally carried on the aircraft centre or inboard-wing stations, is a streamlined cylindrical container made up of three sections with a domed nose and tapered aft end. The front section, which is almost a third of the total length, can swivel in the roll axis. In the case of the LDP/ATLIS 2, the nose carries a series of flat windows to allow emission of the laser beam and reception of the reflected laser signal and the TV picture. The CLDP has a distinctive different nose in that it is more like a ball with flattened sides with an oval window in the centre and a round one directly above. These windows serve the same purpose but also allow the reception of the IR image in the night-time version. The front section of the pods houses the mechanical and electrical systems of the tracking device that is, the roll and pitch-stabilisers, inertial platform and viewing mirror assembly, and the related electrical-powered gimbal mechanism; the TV system including a telescope, prisms, the TV camera for daytime use or an IR thermal imager for night use; and finally, the laser unit which permits both target illumination and computation of aircraft to target distance. This section is pressurised, and its rotation is controlled by a motor and reduction assembly associated with the gimballed assembly, resulting in the coverage of the surface below the aircraft and out to a maximum of 160° from the aircraft’s centreline axis as the aircraft makes a turn. The central section contains the power supply and the electronics pack used for processing the TV signals, the digital computer, interfaces and so on. The aft section contains the laser power supply, fluid cooling unit and electronics environmental control unit. During an attack, having reached the target area, the pilot acquires the target by means of the pod. The pilot then directs a laser spot beam onto the desired impact point with the aid of the cockpit-mounted display and once within the 12 km range, can fire the missile and break away. On launch, the solid-propellant booster motor provides a separation speed of 200 m/s from the launch aircraft and burns for about 2 seconds. The sustainer motor is ignited by hot gases from the booster about 1 second after the booster is fired. The sustainer propels the missile to a flight speed of about 450 m/s (M1.32). Total flight time from launch to impact on a target 12 km away is approximately 22 seconds. Although designed primarily for low-level attacks, during the Gulf War, French Air Force Jaguar pilots launched the missiles from standoff distances of about 10 km and at altitudes typically ranged from 3 to 6 km (10,000 to 20,000 ft). Pilots said they usually started viewing targets through the modified (for high-altitude use) ATLIS 2 pods, as far as 16 to 20 km, using the pods magnification feature. The AS 30L system is credited with a Circular Error of Probability (CEP) of less than 1 m, and the missile is propelled throughout its flight at supersonic impact speed. The warhead is reported to have the capability to penetrate a concrete wall up to 2 m thick before exploding inside.

Operational Status

AS 30L development started around 1974 and it is believed that the missile entered service with the French Air Force in 1988. The technical/operational evaluation firings were completed in June 1988 and two successful night firings were reported in September 1988. AS 30L has been exported to Egypt, India, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan and Venezuela. Reports also state that Iraq fired some AS 30L missiles in the Iran-Iraq war. Iraq was believed to be negotiating to build AS 30L missiles and the ATLIS pods under licence, in addition to the 240 missiles delivered in 1987-88. It is reported that orders for 870 missiles in total have been received, and that around 645 had been delivered by the end of 1996. French Air Force Jaguars fired around 60 AS 30L missiles during the 1991 Gulf War. The French Navy has operated AS 30L missiles from 1996.

SPECIFICATIONS :

Length: 3.65 m
Body diameter: 342 mm
Wing span: 1 m
Launch weight: 520 kg
Warhead: 240 kg HE
Fuze: Impact
Guidance: Inertial and semi-active laser homing
Propulsion: Solid propellant
Range: 12 km

COMPANY NAME : Aerospatiale