Updated: French Mirage 2000N carrying a live nuclear missile?

Sep 11 2011 - 5 Comments

When I first saw the picture of a French Air Force Mirage 2000N  carrying an ASMP-A nuclear missile during a test flight at Istres taken by Tucano13800 and published by Rafale News blog on Sept. 6, I didn’t notice an interesting detail. The nuclear missile wears a yellow stripe that is the colour used to identify live armament.

As I’ve already explained in previous articles, live ammunitions are identified with a yellow stripe, while inert/dummy weapons wear a blue stripe and (based also on pictures of Rafale and Mirage planes involved in Operation Unified Protector over Libya), even the French Air Force uses the same colour code.

I didn’t think live nukes were carried by planes during training sorties, at least here in Europe.

Update: I’ve found an article about the first ASMP-A missile fired by the French Air Force (without its nuclear warhead) to test how it performed and if it followed its intended flight trajectory. The picture shown on the same page show the missile with a yellow stripe.

Since color codes identify the explosive hazards contained within the ordnance (with yellow for high explosive), most probably, the ASMP-A wears a yellow stripe during tests (without warhead) because of the explosive used for fueling its ramjet.

Above image credit: French MoD

Pictures below show the blue stripes applied to inert missiles.

  • Christian

    Isn’t it possible that the missile is actually not a nuke but still live ordnance with the same case and weight of the ASMP used to simulate its behaviour during training sorties?

    • What I think is that the yellow stripe located in that position, indicates the explosive propellant of the ramjet. Most probably, if the missile carried a nuke it would wear another yellow stripe near the nose cone.

      • Christian

        I see the point.
        So this means that missiles normally have two stripes (one for the ramjet and one for the warhead) and bombs only one? Cool, I’ve never noticed that

        • Probably, if there’s explosive to fuel the ramjet.
          Will investigate though, to find some more evidences.

  • kasamago

    yellow or not, there are the same weapon..