Surprise appearance of British ASRAAM anti-aircraft missiles in Ukraine

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Ukrainian air defense systems include a new model: a Supacat HMT 6×6 all-terrain vehicle equipped with an ASRAAM short-range missile launcher. The combination of these two systems allows the creation of a mobile anti-aircraft system equipped with modern missiles that can destroy helicopters, planes but also drones, as demonstrated in 2021.

From air to air to ground to air

On August 4, an image posted on social media showed a Supact High Mobility Transporter (HMT) 6×6 off-road truck in Ukraine. It differs, however, from the basic versions of the HMT because its rear deck was fitted out by English engineers in order to place a dual launcher of short-range air-to-air missiles AIM-132 ASRAAM. It is not CAMM, which is partly based on ASRAAM and is available in a containerized version for short, medium or long range sea-to-air or ground-to-air air defense. Thus, the English engineers, more than likely in cooperation with MBDA, succeeded in integrating and above all adapting the missile for use from a land vehicle. The number of systems delivered is currently unknown.

ASRAAM in Ukraine

Concretely, theAdvanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (in French: short-range advanced air-air missile) or ASRAAM has a range of more than 25 kilometers (according to MBDA, in air-air). It therefore makes it possible to increase Ukrainian short-range anti-aircraft capabilities. Unlike the Starstreaks and the Stormer HVM anti-aircraft armored vehicles – CVRT(T) armored vehicle equipped with the Starstreak system (8 launchers) – already delivered by the United Kingdom, the ASRAAM does not require a direct line of sight with the target because the guidance is not carried out using a laser but rather an infrared sensor directly integrated into the missile in question. It does not have to specifically acquire its target before its launch (LOBL or Lock-On Before Launch) because the development of the ASRAAM has from the start provided for its carriage in the hold of the F-35 Lighthning II combat aircraft. In fact, the latter has a firing capacity in Lock-On After Launch (LOAL). In the case of a fire from a Supacat HMT, the missile can be guided (from a fire from the HMT) by radar, until the infrared sensor of the missile acquires the target in question. Moreover, once fired, an ASRAAM can reach a speed greater than Mach 3.5, or more than 4,321 km/h.

anti drone and combat proven

Iranian Shahed-136 drones are a real threat to Ukrainians. Therefore, each anti-aircraft system delivered and capable of destroying them is to the advantage of the Ukrainians. This is the case of the ASRAAM missile, the latter having already proven itself in combat, in the Middle East: on December 14, 2021, the firing of an ASRAAM from a Eurofighter GR4 combat aircraft allows the latter to record the destruction of a “small drone” over Syria. This destruction then becomes the first aerial victory in more than 39 years. As a reminder, on June 8, 1982, Flt Lt Morgan (RAF, 2 A-4B) and Lt D. Smith (Fleet Air Arm, 1 A-4B) aboard their respective Sea Harrier combat aircraft fired air- short-range AIM-9 Sidewinder and down 2 and 1 A-4B Skyhawk fighter aircraft respectively over Choiseul Strait (Falklands, UK). These three aircraft are the last confirmed air-to-air kills of the Falklands War.

This “new” anti-aircraft system can also be used to defend Ukrainian troops on the front, of course thanks to the range of the missiles but also the all-terrain capabilities of the HMT. The targets are varied: drones but also helicopters or, although quite rare, Russian attack planes at low altitude.


Note that a telescopic mast seems to be between the cabin and the rear shelf with the launcher: the two ends do not seem to serve as an antenna to allow a possible connection with a radar but on the other hand, it is perhaps a question electro-optical sensors to improve shooting. About shooting, once the two missiles launched, the HMT is probably joined by another vehicle with several ASRAAM missiles as well as a possible crane: each missile has a mass of 88 kg.

John Walker Avatar