France Successfully Conducts Evaluation Launch of ASMPA-R Nuclear Missile

On May 22, 2024, France conducted a successful evaluation launch of the upgraded ASMP-A missile, also known as ASMPA-R, announced by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) and Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu. The missile, equipped with an inert warhead, was launched by a Rafale B jet from the French Strategic Air Forces during a simulated nuclear strike.

A Rafale carrying the ASMPA-R missile. Photo from French Air Force

The test, named Durandal, involved tracking the missile from multiple DGA facilities, including Landes Biscarrosse, Hourtin, and Quimper. In addition to the primary Rafale B, the exercise included two other Rafale Bs, a Mirage 2000-5F, and an A330 Phénix MRTT.

The ASMP missile series, first commissioned in 1986, has undergone several upgrades. The ASMP-A variant was delivered in 2009, followed by the ASMPA-R, which was first test-launched in December 2020. The latest version boasts an extended range of 600 kilometers, travels at Mach 3, and features a new generation TNA 300 kT thermonuclear warhead with ramjet propulsion.

The ASMP-A has been a key element of France’s nuclear deterrence strategy, integrated with Rafale jets to ensure strategic strike capability. France’s nuclear arsenal includes around 290 warheads, delivered through Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) and air-launched cruise missiles, forming the core of its “Force de Frappe” deterrent framework.