Air Weapons: Mali Makes France Do It Faster


June 5, 2013: Because of the need to hit rapidly moving targets in Mali (Islamic terrorists speeding away in trucks or cars) France sped up the development of their new laser guidance feature for their SBU-64 Hammer smart bomb kit. Now pilots can hit targets moving up to 80 kilometers an hour, which is twice the speed the laser guided Hammer could previously handle.

SBU-64 is a smart bomb kit that can be added to a 250 kg (550 pound) dumb bomb. The kit includes GPS guidance and wings, which provide over 50 kilometers of guided gliding before hitting the target. The SBU-64 enables the pilot or weapons officers to more precisely guide a bomb (using laser guidance) that has arrived at GPS coordinates programmed into the guidance kit memory. This is useful if you don’t have a precise location of a target. This is a big selling point for the GPS/Laser version of the bomb.

Four years ago France ordered 3,400 of the new AASM series of bomb kits from manufacturer Sagem. While AASM only fits 250 kg bombs (to produce the SBU-64), versions for 125,500 and 1,000 kg bombs are in development. Three years ago a new AASM software upgrade was successfully tested, which allowed a 250 kg bomb to hit the target directly from above. Previously, laser and GPS guided bombs have all come in at the target horizontally. By coming in vertically collateral damage, to nearby structures occupied by civilians, is limited. Two years ago the infrared (night vision) version of the SBU-64 entered service. Last year a GPS/laser version of SUB-64 will become available. SBU-64 is for sale to qualified export customers. France has also used its smart bombs successfully in Afghanistan and Libya and this is a major selling point. France is currently adapting its AASM SBU-64 Hammer series of smart bombs to operate from American F-16 jets. This will expand the number of potential customers as currently the SBU-64 only operates from French made warplanes.

France is seeking to grab a share of the smart bomb market by developing new features for its bombs, while remaining competitive with features already in American smart bombs. For example, an AASM with laser guidance will be available next year.



Article Archive

Air Weapons: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close