It’s taken over 20 years for the advanced, short range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM) upgrade to NATO fighters’ close range weapons suite to go from memorandum of agreement to reality, but it looks like the day has finally arrived:
In a world first for an Air Force and an infra-red guided missile, Air Combat Group (ACG) of the Royal Australian Air Force has successfully carried out the first in-service ‘Lock After Launch’ firing of an ASRAAM (Advanced short-range air-to-air missile) at a target located behind the wing-line of the “shooter” aircraft. The firing was conducted from an F/A-18 fighter aircraft, at low level and typical fighter speed, at a target located behind the fighter at a range in excess of 5km. The result was a direct hit on the target.
It’d be tempting to say that a shoot’em-off-your-six missile was a unique requirement of the RAAF, but that (alas) would come back around and bite me. I’ve flown against Australian fighter pilots in FA-18s, and they know the trade as well anyone, in a close-in brawl.