A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 18, 2024

Ukraine French Hammer Missiles Are Decoys As HARMs Destroy Tracking SAM Sites

In another clever innovation, Ukraine's Air Force is using French Hammer air-to-ground missiles as decoys for Russian SAMs, eager to shoot the French missiles down as a means of taunting Ukraine's allies. 

But the actual strategy is to get the SAM sites tracking the Hammers to identify themselves as another Ukrainian plane then fires HARM anti-radar missiles and destroys the Russian defenders. JL  

Parth Satam reports in EurAsian Times:

Ukrainian Air Force Su-27s are now dropping the French-made AASM-250 Hammer air-to-ground guided munitions on Russian ground targets and are also releasing AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) to hit Russian ground radars used to shoot down the Hammers. Ukraine is exploiting Russian enthusiasm for shooting down Hammers by using the bomb as bait for its air defenses – possibly the Buk-M1-2 medium-range or the Tor-M2 short-range AD platforms. The HARM’s homing head automatically picks up radar emissions from Russian SAM sites and guides itself there.A recent video has revealed that after the MiG-29s in the Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) fleet, even its Sukhoi Su-27s are now dropping the French-made AASM-250 Hammer air-to-ground guided munitions on Russian ground targets. 

In a very intriguing Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD/DEAD) tactic, the same jets are also releasing AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM), seen in publicity videos, possibly to hit Russian ground radars that are used to shoot down the AASM Hammers.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) has been publicizing rising shoot-downs of the French-made Hammers since they appeared on the battlefield between February and March this year.  

The first visual confirmation of the AASM Hammer came in March this year when it was seen on a MiG-29 in March. This was followed by both the Ukrainians and Russians reporting several successful hits and interceptions of the bomb.

The bombs are 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. 

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. 

AASM-250 Hammer

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 FAB-500 bombs released from the Su-34 Fullback fighter bomber. 

French defense firm Safran also offers the AASM on 125, 500, and 1,000-kg bombs. Fired at stand-off distance day or night, the AASM can be launched at low altitudes and highly off-axis and perform high-precision vertical strikes under all weather conditions. It has a range of 15 km when released from low altitudes and 50 km when dropped from high altitudes. 

In the week leading up to April 5, Russia claimed to have shot down three Ukrainian Su-25 attack aircraft, two Su-27 fighters and one MiG-29, Russia TV (RT) said on its Telegram channel.

On April 6, the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) said its air defenses “eliminated” five Hammer and the US-made Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) “aerial guided bombs,” in addition to the Su-27s and MiG-29s mentioned previously. 

Video Showing Su-27S Firing Hammers & HARM

Assuming the claims about shooting down the Ukrainian fighters are true, and given the fact that UAF Su-27s are appearing in publicity material after a long time, it can be assumed that Kyiv is diversifying its aerial platforms for air-to-ground missions. 

Even more interestingly, the video that showed the Su-27S dropping the Hammer also showed two shots of the Su-27s firing what appears to be an air-to-air missile. This can be concluded to be the AGM-88 HARM, as it has been clearly seen being fired from UAF Su-27s in other official publicity material and social media pages. 


The video, posted on X, claimed the variant was the Su-27S belonging to the 39th Tactical Aviation Brigade. It is seen releasing the AASM Hammer from the port (left-side) wing. A video from inside a cockpit also showed a missile leaving the starboard-side (right) wing and the aircraft banking hard right. Another in-cockpit video shows a missile leaving the port (left) wing, and the plane banking left. 

These missiles are the AGM-88 HARM, as they appeared in another video on the official account of the Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) on March 15. That video of the 831st Tactical Brigade showed a cockpit video of it releasing a missile from the starboard wing, which can be clearly identified as the HARM, from its distinctive shape. 

Another video on an Instagram account identified as ‘ua_military24’ showed the same shots of the Hammer in action but also a cockpit video of the Su-27’s payload, where the HARM can be seen on the middle pylons of both the wings.

However, the HARMs are slightly hidden by the airspeed probes on both sides of the cockpit in the foreground but can still be made out by the front fins. Su-27s were spotted flying with the HARMS in September 2022 after they were integrated into the UAF’s MiG-29s.  


In the latest video showing the Su-27S-Hammer operation, it is certain that there is a pair of two jets, since the one Su-27 is recorded on video dropping the bomb. While it appears that the Su-27S releasing the Hammer is not the one firing the HARM too, it nevertheless represents an intriguing tactic. 

Based on the proximity of the ground and fields captured in the video, the planes are operating from low to medium altitudes for their bomb release runs. Flying higher might lead them to be easily detected by Russian Aerospace Forces (RuAF) Su-35 and Su-30SM patrolling 24×7.

But Ukraine is trying to exploit the Russian enthusiasm of shooting down the Hammers by using the bomb as bait for its air defenses – possibly the Buk-M1-2 medium-range or the Tor-M2 short-range AD platforms.

It appears that the gap and time-lapse between the Hammer and HARM release is not very long. Upon firing, the HARM’s homing head is expected to automatically pick up the radar emissions from Russian SAM sites and guide itself there.


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