2008: A French Rafale fighter dropped
the first French made smart bomb, in Afghanistan, on April 19th. The bomb, an
AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire, or air-to-ground modular weapon) was about a
decade in development. Like the U.S. JDAM, it is a GPS kit, attached to a 250
kilogram (550 pound) bomb, and delivers the bomb within 30 feet of the aim
point. This kit costs $125,000 each (JDAM costs 75 percent less, but that's
because many more JDAMs were purchased, thus spreading development cost over
more weapons). The AASM program cost was over $630 million. The AASM entered
service in 2006.
There is a
second version of AASM, with an infrared (heat sensing) imaging system, that
increases accuracy to within three feet of the aim point. This kit costs
$171,000 each, and has comparable to U.S. laser guided bomb kits (which cost
about $55,000 each.) There are also kits for 275 pound and 1100 pound bombs.
AASM dropped on April 19th hit the target.