The first evaluation firing of the new weapon system formed by the Mirage 2000N and the ASMPA enhanced stand-off missile took place on Tuesday, Nov. 23. This test was code-named Topaze.
The aircraft’s crew, comprising a pilot and a navigator from the 3/4 “Limousin” fighter squadron, flew a long mission (about 5 hours) during which it flew at different flight profiles: high altitude, several in-flight refuellings from a C135 tanker belonging to the 2/91 “Bretagne” In-Flight Refuelling Group, low-level penetration, terrain following etc.
At the end of these five hours, the crew fired the ASMPA missile (without its nuclear warhead) which followed its intended flight trajectory. Mission accomplished for this initial trial!
“The 3/4 “Limousin” fighter squadron invested a lot [of effort] in this project,” the unit’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Luc Pernet, said in an interview for the official air force magazine.
Other agencies that shared in the project’s execution are the air force’s strategic command assets; the DGA armaments agency with the missile test center in Biscarosse and the Horus program management office; missile prime contractor MBDA and, finally, the French navy whose assets patrolled the firing area.
ASMPA is a new missile, fitted with a nuclear warhead and powered by a solid fuel motor and a powder booster. It can be fired at various altitudes, and flies at supersonic speeds along a trajectory that allow it to evade enemy defenses.
Its warhead is the first to be developed in France without recourse to nuclear tests, using only computer simulations. Its development used mainly physical data collected during the last nuclear test campaign, as well as intensive computer calculations and simulations.