France has successfully tested the upgraded version of its ASMPA supersonic nuclear missile, the country’s Defense Minister Florence Parly announced on Wednesday.
The rocket, developed by French arms manufacturers MBDA, was launched by a Dassault Rafale fighter jet that took off from Air Base 120 in Cazaux, according to a statement by the ministry.
“Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, expresses her great satisfaction at the successful March 23, 2022, test of the refurbished strategic medium-range air-to-surface missile (ASMPA), devoid of its military payload,” the statement read.
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“This success marks the entry into the production phase of the modernized ASMPA missile, a prerequisite before its entry into service in the Air Force and Air Force Strategic Air Force and the National Navy Nuclear Air Force,” the ministry added.
The launch was carried out without a live warhead.
The announcement comes at the height of war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion of the country with many observers concerned about a potential military escalation by Russia.
The Medium Range Nuclear Air-Ground Missile (ASMPA) was launched in 2009 and is to be replaced around 2035 with a next-generation ground-to-ground (ASN4G) system.
France is the only country in the European Union equipped with a nuclear weapon arsenal, which can be used either by nuclear-powered submarines or by Rafale aircraft equipped for ASMPA.