​The Rafale Fighter Jet Successfully Launched an Upgraded Nuclear Missile during Testing

Illustrative photo / Photo credit: MBDA
Illustrative photo / Photo credit: MBDA

The successful launch showcases France’s operational capabilities and technological prowess in the nuclear domain

French Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu announced yesterday, May 22, on X, that as part of Operation Durandal, a Rafale fighter jet successfully tested the updated ASMPA-R supersonic nuclear missile, which was launched without a warhead during the exercise.

“This operation, long in the planning, fulfills the ambitions outlined in our military programming law for nuclear deterrence, showcasing our excellence and operational reliability. Congratulations to all the forces, ministry teams and industrial partners involved,” Sébastien Lecornu wrote.

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The ASMPA-R missile represents the latest modernization of the ASMP medium-range nuclear cruise missile from MBDA France, first commissioned in March 1986.

The development of the upgraded ASMP-A version began in 1997, leading to its commissioning 12 years later, in 2009. The updated missile features a new nuclear warhead and an increased range – 500 km compared to 300 km in the base version. Work on the ASMPA-R upgrade began in 2016, and it is known to also feature an increased range. In the ASMP and ASMP-A versions, the missile weighs 860 kg, measures 5.38 m in length, and has a diameter of 380 mm, capable of flying at speeds up to Mach 3.

Overall, France plans to allocate about 13% of its defense budget in the coming years to enhance the country’s nuclear capabilities. Additionally, France continues to research the ASN4G next-generation nuclear hypersonic missile ASN4G, which will have a range of over 1000 km.

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