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The AIM-132 ASRAAM is a high speed, highly manoeuvrable, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile. Built by MBDA UK Ltd, the missile is designed as a 'fire-and-forget' weapon, able to counter intermittent target obscuration in cloud as well as sophisticated infrared (IR) countermeasures. Although ASRAAM is predominantly intended for use in the within-visual-range (WVR) arena, it also has capabilities that permit its use in the beyond-visual-range arena.
The missile uses a new Raytheon Imaging IR seeker head and it is the world's first IR missile to enter service using a sapphire-domed staring array detector, which detects the whole target scene. When combined with digital signal-processing and imaging software, ASRAAM is able to see individual areas of its target, such as engines, cockpit or wings. The picture is very similar to a monochrome TV picture, and gives the missile excellent long-range target acquisition, even against employed countermeasures such as flares or similar pyrotechnics. In addition to its ability to image targets, the seeker also allows the missile to be fired at very high off-boresight angles, in either lock-before or lock-after-launch modes. Because the missile has a fire-and-forget capability, the pilot can engage multiple targets with several missiles simultaneously. To increase its speed and its operating range, the missile has a low-drag design; only tail fins are provided for control purposes; and a new, low-signature, dual-burn, high-impulse solid rocket motor provides the power. Compared to other similar missiles, this new motor improves both the missile's instantaneous acceleration and its maximum cruise velocity.
In a typical WVR engagement, the ASRAAM is slaved to the target either visually or by the launch aircraft's onboard sensors. Following release, the missile accelerates to speeds in excess of Mach 3 whilst being guided to the target using its IR seeker. Detonation of the high-explosive fragmentation warhead is achieved by either a laser proximity fuse or an impact fuse.
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- January 14, 2013
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