The UK Royal Air Force is to take into service the Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) at a so-called ‘interim-standard.’
ASRAAM will equip RAF Tornado F3, Harrier GR9 and, eventually, Eurofighter combat aircraft as well as the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier FA2s. The missile is also being integrated onto the Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18 fighters and missile deliveries will be carried out during 2002.
Delivery of the weapon to the RAF was delayed in April last year, due to concerns that certain ‘performance standards’ were not being met fully. A statement from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, however, that now – due to extensive work by the manufacturer MBDA and MoD – the situation has been satisfactorily resolved, allowing the RAF to bring into service the first batch of missiles at an ‘interim standard’, which is still significantly more capable than the current AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range missile carried by RAF aircraft.
The difference between the interim standard and the original standard, however, was not specified in any detail.
The MoD statement, however, did allude to the fact that ongoing development work will allow subsequent batches to be delivered with increased capability.
Production of ASRAAM is being undertaken at MBDA’s Lostock facility in north-west England with missile development led from the Stevenage site, north of London.