ASMP/-A Nuclear Cruise Missile: The Development and Capabilities

The ASMP (Air-Sol Moyenne Portée) nuclear cruise missile is a formidable weapon in the French military’s arsenal, providing a tactical nuclear capability that acts as a strong deterrent against potential adversaries.

The missile was developed in the late 1970s as a replacement for the AN-22 nuclear bombs used by the French Air Force. This article will provide an overview of the ASMP development program, its technical characteristics, and future improvements.

The ASMP Development Program – Targeting the Soviet Union

ASMP (Air-sol moyenne portée): The French nuclear cruise missile

The ASMP development program was initiated in 1978 by Aerospatiale, a French aerospace company, with the aim of creating a missile capable of penetrating the air defense systems of the Soviet Union.

The cost of the program was estimated to be around $1.37 billion, and it was undertaken by MBDA France and the Ariane Group. The missile entered service in 1986 and was first deployed on Dassault Mirage IV and Super Etendard aircraft.

Technical Characteristics of the ASMP/-A Missile System

The ASMP is a guided cruise missile that is 5.38 meters long and weighs 860 kg. It is equipped with a 300 kiloton nuclear warhead and a solid fuel Ramjet engine, which allows it to reach high speeds in a short amount of time.

ASMP/-A Nuclear Cruise Missile: The Development and Capabilities
PHOTO By French Air Force – French Air Force, Fair use

The missile can accelerate to a speed of Mach 2 within 5 seconds and reach a final speed of Mach 3 using its powerful engine. Its maximum range can reach 300 kilometers, depending on the launch altitude of the missile.

The ASMP-A is the improved version of the ASMP missile, which entered service in 2009.

The missile has been also updated with a new thermonuclear warhead with increased penetration capabilities, and it can engage targets over a greater distance of over 500 kilometers and at higher speeds of up to 8 Mach (ASN4G). The ASMP-A also uses a Ramjet engine, similar to its predecessor, but with improved performance and capabilities.


The missiles’ advanced technical characteristics, such as their speed, range, and warhead capabilities, make them a potent force to reckon with.

The development of the ASMP-A represents a significant advancement in the missile system’s capabilities and provides France with an even more potent tactical nuclear capability.

ASMP/-A missile systems are a crucial element in NATO’s defense strategy and are sure to act as a strong deterrent against any potential adversary.


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