A Nuclear-Armed Rafale

Check out this great picture of a French air force Rafale armed with what appears to be an ASMP-A (Air Sol Moyenne Porte Ameliore) nuclear missile. The latest variant of the missile can fly for 500 kilometers at speeds of Mach 3 with a 300 kiloton warhead. The weapon is designed to be used as a last-ditch warning shot prior to an all out attack by France’s air-and-sea-based nuclear diad, the Force De Frappe.

The French air force’s Strike Squadron 3/4 flying Mirage 2000Ns and Strike Squadron 1/91 flying the Rafales are both equipped with the missile.

I’ve got to say, I’m not sure how effective nuclear warning shots are if the other guy has nukes, too.

Props to Steve Trimble for finding this picture. Here’s the original poster.

  • kljaldkj

    aaand why was this thing airborne?

    • Answerless

      Veeery good question.

  • Hunter78

    300 Kiloton warning shot?

    • indian

      in terms of TNT equivelance

  • USA94

    I think the french are feeling either “Badass” or “stupid”

    • froggy

      try it, is to accept it, idiot !

  • James

    Last ditch effort before France surrenders you mean.

  • A. Nonymous

    Still trying to wrap my mind around the term “nuclear warning shot.” I assume this would only be used against another nuclear-armed country. “RSVP to Armageddon” is the more likely outcome.

    • Trooper2

      Unique, I believe, to the French. From Wikipedia:
      “Since the French military judged that a full-scale invasion of Western Europe by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact Allies was unlikely to be stopped by conventional armaments, these short-range nuclear missiles were meant as a “final warning” (ultime avertissement in French) which would tell the aggressor that any further advances would trigger a nuclear armageddon upon its major cities and other important targets.”
      Maybe too much red wine in the diet?

      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        Well, either that, or Wiki isn’t the best source in the world with regards to nuclear policy?

        But if the Wiki article is credible, a 300kt warning shot does indeed seem a bit OTT.

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen

        • Christian Benesch

          I guess the warning shot would be dropped *next* to an important city or on advancing troops. And I am sure the enemy would notice a 300 kton explosion and it might get him to reconsider, don’t you think.? Especially if he was speculating on an easy conventional victory.

          It would not necessarily mean all out Amargeddon. The Russians might just have said: “Oh I see! So you really do not want to join the world revolution? OK OK we get the hint. We keep Germany then.”

          Even against Japan such a “warning” was considered, although it’s unlikely anyone would have understood the full extent of that warning. I think it was Truman who decided to actually drop it on a populated city.

          The overall idea clearly stems from cold-war thinking and sure, it could have been the first shot in a global catastrophe.

          Christian Benesch

  • Steve B.

    I’m thinking the “nuclear armed warning shot” concept, as described here, is a bit of sarcasm perhaps?. I can’t consider the French military designing this for such a purpose, as there’s really no potential enemy they would use it against. Russia ?. China ?, UK ?.

    Possibly it’s more a “other then SLBM” nuclear weapon, for when their SLBM’s cannot be targeted to a desired location and possibly they have some sort of confidence that an aircraft could do the job ?.

    I admit I’m having a hard time envisioning such a scenario in today’s day and age. Possibly Islamabad after some crazy lets loose a nuke in Paris ?. Long shot and maybe the cost cutters will retire these things.


    • froggy

      french nuclear is to protect french territory, not american designed enemis, idiots the whole lot of you

      • Nadnerbus

        Well, then proceed to outline a scenario where this type of weapon would be useful.

        • Loki

          A threat of nuclear or chemical attack from Libya for example. We live in a very unstable and unpredictable world, it is good to have possible means of attack at different levels of engagement even when nuclear weapons are concerned. Similarly, if an intruder enters my home, I might want to be able to shoot him in the shoulder before shooting him in the head.

      • saberhagen

        Good for you. Finally French can protect their own soil without other come to help liberate them.

      • If we are all idiots then how much sense does it make to debate with us. Learn English and go home.

        • froggy

          no double standards of course !

    • Jeff M

      A 300kt “warning shot” is in and of itself a joke.

    • joe

      There’s a degree of ‘tactical’ utility for a weapon like this. As noted, it’s one of several smaller nukes that US and Western Europe envisaged deploying in a ‘soviet hordes breaking through the Fulda Gap’ scenario. Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles are great for flattening cities but the communications loop makes it too slow to try and target an armour brigade hoofing it along an as-yet-unknown route through western Germany.

    • USAF SSgt

      The UK? Really? You actually think that France, a NATO country, would be worried about a threat from the UK, another NATO country? You are an idiot, plain and simple.

      • Loki

        The answer is the attack by the perfidious English on the French fleet at Mers-El-Kebir in 1940. With allies like these who needs enemies. Never again…

        • Noth

          That’s what happens when your leaders bath in defeatism and fail to defend against the invader, and sign surrender deals and then collaboration ones. Mers El Khebir was entirely the French’s fault.

          • Loki

            in 1914 the English lines were pulverized by the Germans Petain send 40 divisions to pluck the hole. In 1940 he asked a reinforcement of the air force the English pulled it out instead, therefore my comment. The situation was certainly dire but not necessarily desperate. As to failing to defend tell that to the 100,000 dead French soldiers of the battle of France.

          • saberhagen

            but but they actually FAILED, didnt they?

        • USAF SSgt

          Good point, except for the fact that the Brits were attacking them to prevent them from falling into the Vichy French side’s hands and ultimately the Nazi Germans, oh and, that was before NATO.

        • Christian Benesch

          So an ASMP-A on Portsmouth would make you even?

          I think Steve B. was just listing the available nuclear powers. But I do not think that the deterrent is just meant against a nuclear attack. It can be used in any attack scenario where you end up at a disadvantage and where your territory is threatened.

          I doubt very highly that it will be used in the current kind of external operations or as a foreign policy tool. And it is not meant to be. The nuclear option is always the very last resort. The tactical nuclear option the one before the last.

          The only thing that justifies the immense costs in the meantime is that having these things is still impressive. The French think it makes them a more serious player. And I think there is some truth in that.

          Christian Benesch

        • saberhagen

          yeah, and that’s thanks to your ‘brave’ Petain who kiss Hitler’s a$$

        • saberhagen

          yeah, and that’s thanks to your ‘brave’ Petain who kiss Hitler’s a$$

    • The scenario it was made for was having 1.5 Million Soviet Troops in East Germany and Czechoslovakia blitzkrieg their way towards the Rhine. The French would airburst this warhead in their path, or over the advanced elements of the Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces as they made for the Rhine. The hope would be to keep the Conventional Soviet forces from attacking into France in a push for the Atlantic

  • Tim

    When Carla Bruni decides to get rid of Sarkosy !

  • PondScum

    Note to China, an armada of these tactical nuclear missiles would be very effective in repelling a [US] carrier battle group.

    • Okay this is an American forum, unless I missed something.

      • Anonimouse9

        Doesn’t matter. China has better non-nuclear missiles for that very purpose.

        Nuclear weapons, aside from MAD city-busters, are obsolete.
        1) Never used (though they should have been)
        2) Better non-nuclear choices that are just as destructive
        3) Too dangerous to carry around (easier for them to “disappear”)

        • TROJANII

          Never used?

  • stef

    The warning is when the jet is airborne, not when the missile is shot. It’s a way to show you really mean it but there’s still a (short) room for an agreement – you can still call it of.
    On contrary, a hidden sub is not warning anybody until the missile is shot – wich is not anymore a warning but a strike.

    • Stormcharger

      Spot on. This falls under the umbrella of nuclear deterence as practiced by SAC for 50 years. While it shows the other side how serious you take their actions by carrying aloft a nuclear weapon, the idea is never to have to actually use it.

      A submarine with 192 nuclear warheads is daunting to a nation like Russia or China, as they have the capability to know that it’s in the ocean waiting. But other smaller nucear armed countries usually don’t have the intelligence capabilities to know when a sub has put to sea and hence no deterence.

      However, anouncing that your flying around with a nuclear missile on your wing, that any third world dictator can see with his radar is a whole different story. It’s like reaching to let your 120 pound Pit Bull of his leash when some guy insults your girlfriend, he knows he’s about to get mauled. At least that’s the theory…

      • Mastro

        I never bought these arguments- basically just an excuse for the Air Force boys to have jets.

        If a country has a large sub fleet- some are at sea- heck- I think the Brits and French have a boomer at sea at all times.

        If you need a “warning shot” for the bad guys- either do it diplomatically, or go to DEFCON TWO or whatever that is in French.

    • saberhagen

      LOL And this room is called “out of gas” or “the pilot just pass out”. You dont need to know where the sub is to know its out there and its ready to wipe out half of your country.

    • stef

      There’s an Illustration of the concept in “You only live twice”. End of the movie, USA threatened to nuke URSS with a fleet of airborne B52 while James Bond desperately try to foil the plans of evil Dr Bloefeld and save the world. Of course, there’s a clock ticking fast. Last ditch.

      • kim


  • Jay

    “Chrome Dome”

    • jmd123

      “Fail-Safe”! Or is that “Dr. Strangelove”??

  • 6471960

    They would love to use it on Israel.

    • asdf
      • TROJANII

        Uh-oh, “Neocons”. lol

        • Matt

          Arent neo-conservatives people like Bush (supporter of Isreal)? So why would a neo-con say he wanted to nuke Isreal?

    • asdf

      recap: forget israel, it’s not important anymore.

    • kim

      France wanting to nuke Israel?

  • Bob

    I wonder if the missle comes with tennis shoes so the FRENCH chicken s__t pilot can run away should his plane go down. A country full of thankless wimps. My Dad took a bullet in WW2 for them and have an Uncle who was a POW for six months. The French citizens at the time laughed and derided him when he as a POW was paraded thru Metz France with two very large, blonde haired, blue eyed German soldiers holding each of his arms and showing the locals there how powerful they were. With them for “allies” we have little help. Like I said, French are wimps. If I know something is made in France, I don’t buy it. Let the money do the talking.

    • gildasd

      My gran has a metal plate in the head after being knocked over by a Panzer in 1941as 15 year old, my whole family was held hostage in St Nazaire until after Berlin fell while under constant US and UK bombardment yet they attended the burial of every downed allied pilot. Despite orders that doing so was a one way trip to bullet in the back of the head (if you were lucky). She and my gramp, as 14 years olds, also dragged rotting English corpses out of the mud after the Lancastria was sunk for proper burial. So your uncle might have seen the worst of the bad, but don’t put us all in the same bucket.

      To know what “real” French people were doing, not the lazy arseholes your uncle met, please read about Bir Hakeim, the resistance and the “Free French” in general.

      Personally, a French man, I try to buy American for my tooling, while your governments since Reagan have been exporting American jobs.

  • Corvan

    500km, Mach 3 performance!?! Put a conventional warhead on that thing & get it on the international market now! Now!! NOW!!!

  • Christian Benesch

    The French calculation then was to make it too costly to invade them, even though they have become a comparatively small power.

    Epitomized in Charles de Gaulles statement: “I truly believe that one does not light-heartedly attack people who are able to kill 80 million Russians (the French with their nuclear weapons), even if one can kill 800 million French, that is if there were 800 million French.”

    (and surely there was a tinge of never ever letting an army roll over them again as in WW2)

    And yes, guys, it is called “deterrent” for a reason. It is not meant to be dropped on anybody, but it has to be credible. So the planes have to fly (and probably let themselves be photographed).

    Whether “deterrent” is a good thing or whether it is crazy is another matter. But that is not a different question for the French than for the British, US or Russians.

  • bob

    The author of this article is quoting wikipedia.
    Either we can now read the nuclear weapon’s strategy of a country on a free online encyclopedia or the post is highly inacurate.

    Do you guys even know what 300 kiloton is? It’s 20 times Hiroshima.
    Yeah there is more destructive but that will most likely do the job.