Deadly Combo Of HAMMER & HIMARS Batters Russia; RuMoD Claims Downing Four French-Origin Missiles

Russia claimed shooting down a French-made AASM Hammer precision-guided bomb on March 6 for the first time and three more later till 9th March. 

Ukraine ‘Hammers’ Russia With French Smart Bombs Integrated On MiG-29 Fighters As It Awaits F-16s

With a total of four Hammers lost, Russian air defenses have reportedly found ways to track and identify the bombs strapped with guidance kits. These are otherwise hard to track and engage, unlike land-attack cruise and ballistic missiles, which have large heat exhaust and electromagnetic radiation. 

India also uses the Hammers on the Dassault Rafale Generation 4.5 fighter and has customized them for use on the LCA Tejas. In late January this year, France announced sending 50 Hammers to Ukraine to support its war effort. 

Hit Russian Ground Targets From Safe Distance

The bombs were expected to aid the Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) effort to hit Russian ground targets at a greater distance and lower danger to its pilots and planes.

Interestingly, all the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) updates about the Hammer shootdowns were also mentioned alongside downings of US-made High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) projectiles. 

This could mean Ukraine is coordinating Hammer and HIMARS strikes. Or, the Russian MoD media wing is simply grouping non-aircraft and non-UAV hits by its ground-based air defense systems together. Hammer is an acronym for Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range.

RuMoD Claims

During the first shootdown of the French bomb reported in the RuMoD update on March 6, a single Hammer was “shot down” in a period of “24 hours.” This was along with nine HIMARS MLRS projectiles.” Russia has described the Hammer as an “aerial bomb.” 

On March 7 “six HIMARS MLRS projectiles” as well as “one French-made AASM Hammer guided aerial bomb,” fell victim to “air defense units.” The following day, on March 8, “air defense facilities” shot down “six” HIMARS rockets and “one AASM Hammer guided aerial bomb.” 

That day also saw 32 Ukrainian UAVs being shot down in Krasnoye, Peski, Pervomaiskoye, Shevchenko, and Petrovskoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). On March 9, it shot down “three HIMARS MLRS projectiles” and “one Hammer aerial guided bomb.” 

Enter The AASM Hammer

According to RIA Novosti, the Hammer’s “first combat use” was witnessed in the Northern Military District on March 3, in the “area of the Avdiivka coke plant.” Developed by the French company Safran, it weighs over 250 kg and has a range of over 70 km. 

The AASM Precision-Guided Munition (PGM) comprises a guidance kit and a “range augmentation unit” fitted to standard 250-kg bombs. It is offered in three versions: SBU-38 (inertial and GPS guidance), SBU-54 (GPS-inertial and laser guidance), and SBU-64 (GPS, inertial, and infrared guidance). 

The driving principle of a “kit” that converts unguided, free-falling bombs into PGMs is similar to the American Paveway or the Russian Universal Module for Planning and Correction (UMPC) systems. The latter has been installed on nearly all of the FAB-500 bombs released from the Su-34 Fullback fighter bomber. 

Safran also offers the AASM on 125, 500, and 1,000 kg bombs. Fired at stand-off distance day or night, under all weather conditions, the AASM can be launched at low altitudes and highly off-axis and can perform high-precision vertical strikes. 

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Ukraine Too Claims Successful ‘Hammerings’

Militarnyi, a semi-official website of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), describes the Hammer’s range augmentation unit as a “rocket engine” that works as an “accelerator.”

Regarding the first use of the Hammer on the Avdiivka coke plant, the report said a UAV of the “Luftwaffe” (the German Air Force) was “used to adjust the fire.” The Ukrainians also used the Hammer to strike Russian ground positions in the Kherson region. 

Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, published the footage of the air strike on his Telegram channel.

One of the photos captured a guided bomb with the inscription “For the children of Odesa. With hatred, without respect”. Ukraine appears to be using MiG-29 fighters for launching the Hammer.

India’s LCA Tejas Can ‘Hammer’ Too

Images of the AASM Hammer flying on the LCA Tejas appeared in August 2023. The fighter was shown carrying one bomb each on the middle pylons of the left and right wings.

The project was undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Release tests were first carried out on the aircraft on March 31, 2022, which was described as a “Phase 1” integration.

The munitions can allow Tejas to strike hardened targets from a distance of 70 km, in line with its role as a point defense and light battlefield strike aircraft, as seen in various IAF exercises and drills. The light fighter can carry up to five Hammers on its hard points.

In the Indian scenario, it can come in handy in striking medium-sized battlefield Pakistani or Chinese tactical headquarters, troops encampments, and supply lines. This can be in support of a larger ground campaign in offensive mission sets.

With the war in Ukraine, Indian observers can study from live examples of the weapon’s efficacy and how precision-guided and glide bombs are usually preceded by heavy and deep reconnaissance and surveillance with unmanned assets.

India lags in this arena and needs a large number of Medium/High Altitude Long Endurance (MALE/HALE)- class drones to allow the successful use of weapons like the AASM Hammer.