ASRAAM Block 6 standard is due to enter service on Typhoon in 2022 and F-35 Lightning II in 2024.
John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, aked via a written question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the ASRAAM Sustainment programme has entered service on the (a) Typhoons and (b) F-35 IIs.”
Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, responded:
“The ASRAAM sustainment programme continues to be delivered within Complex Weapons Portfolio contract price. On current plans, the resultant ASRAAM Block 6 standard is due to enter service on Typhoon in 2022 and F-35 Lightning II in 2024.”
ASRAAM is in service with the Royal Air Force as its ‘Within Visual Range’ anti-air missile. The weapon is also in operational service with the Royal Australian Air Force on its F/A-18 Hornet.
According to MBDA:
“In Within Visual Range (WVR) air combat, the ability to strike first is vital. A pilot engaging an enemy needs a missile that reacts more rapidly than ever before with the speed and agility to maximise the probability of a kill, regardless of evasive target manoeuvres or the deployment of countermeasures. ASRAAM has proven this capability.
ASRAAM accepts target information via the aircraft sensors, such as the radar or helmet mounted sight but can also act as an autonomous infrared search and track system. The RAAF has demonstrated successful ‘over the shoulder’ firing in Lock On After Launch (LOAL) mode against target drones that were behind the wing-line of the launch aircraft.”
The new block 6 ASRAAM was developed to meet UK requirements, and this incorporated new and updated sub-systems, including a new-generation seeker of increased pixel density, and a built-in cryogenic cooling system.
This new seeker is manufactured in Bolton, England, and is entirely U.S. international traffic in arms regulations (ITAR) subjected components free. Why does that matter? According to this source, a previous attempt to sell the missile to Saudi Arabia was scuttled because of objections from Washington. The missile’s seeker is made in American, thus requiring export approval from the United States.
MBDA has developed a new Block 6 variant of the ASRAAM dogfight missile that removes American-made components so that any export of the weapon will not be subjected to ITAR.