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AS.15 / AM.15

By 1975 France was preparing a new helicopter-borne anti-ship missile to be carried by such helicopters as Naval Dauphin or Lynx. AS.15, a more powerful replacement for the AS.12, has a range in excess of 15km and therefore has radio command instead of wire guidance. The warhead is the same as that of AS.12. Models were shown at the French naval exhibition at Le Bourget, but no further information has been released. The AS.15 was being developed by Aerospatiale, while the AM.15 is reported to be a Matra project.

Potential export customers for an AS.12 successor demanded greater range than was specified by the French Navy for the AM.10, which led to two versions of the AS.15. A radio command link was adopted for both the standard AS.15 and the all-weather AS.15TT (Tous Temps); despite their similar designations, however, the two weapons differ significantly. AS.15 is spin-stabilised, optically guided and launched from AS.12 rails.

AS.15TT, being a sea-skimmer, does not spin, and is operated in conjunction with the Thomson-CSF Agrion radar, a derivative of the frequency-agile pulse-compression Iguane, being developed to update the Alize anti-submarine aircraft. The missile's deviation from the line of sight to the target was measured by the radar, and azimuth steering commands were transmitted over a radio link. A preprogrammed descent from launch altitude was made until the on-board radio altimeter beaome effective, the round then pulling out at sea-skimming height. When the missile approached within 300m of the target, as measured by the helicopter radar, it was commanded to drop from its 5-6m cruise height to just above the sea surface so that it was sure to hit the ship. The AS.15TT has accelerator and sustainer rockets, is controlled by moving tail surfaces and carries four wing-tip aerials in bullet fairings. Gross weight was 95-98 kg.

This is basically an all-weather replacement for the AS.12 and has the same 30kg general purpose warhead to attack the same targets. Its range is at least 15km, twice that of the AS.12, and it is a roll-stabilised sea-skimmer with radio command guidance. The system is mainly intended for helicopter installation, but can also be launched from slow aircraft. Though the French Navy was watching the program with interest, Aerospatiale was mainly working on its own for an unidentified customer. Aerospatiale believes there may be a good market with those navies now operating AS.12/SS.12. A land-launched version with boosters was studied developed. AS.15TT replaces earlier studies of the AM.10 Lasso fired from SS.12 rails and the AS.15 spin-stabilised command- to-line-of-sight missile.

A customer for the AS.15TT had come forward in 1979, so Aerospatiale was concentrating on this weapon rather than the simpler AS.15 (which would have used infra-red missile tracking) and the lighter AM.10. Saudi Arabia was the launch customer for the SA.365F Naval Dauphin, having ordered 24 helicopters as part of the Sawari contract placed with French companies in 1980. The first four Saudi Dauphins were for search and rescue, with 240 Omera ORB.32 search radar, Doppler navigation, and rescue hoist. Deliveries begin in July 1983. The remaining 20 Sawari Dauphins were each armed with four AS.15TT command-guided missiles for anti-surface vessel (ASV) operations.

Unguided separation firings of incomplete missiles started in 1983, and with AS.15TTs fired from ground launchers. Their guidance systems worked successfully out to the maximum range of 15km, according to Aerospatiale. Thomson-CSF built the Agrion 15 search and guidance radar associated with the all-weather AS.15TT. Agrion's chinmounted antenna gives 360 coverage, and is roll stabilised to 30. Commissioned in 1984, production extended to 350 copies. The French Navy was not equipped for this type of missile, except from the AS 12, which had a lower scope.





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