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

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.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.