To Kill a Radar: Analysing the now largely-forgotten ARMAT missile

Now largely forgotten, ARMAT was a French weapon that proved its worth in the 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq War. Tom Withington takes a closer look.

Anti-radar Martel (ARMAT) was closely based on the Anglo-French Hawker Siddeley/Matra AS-37 Martel. Developed in the 1960s, Martel had two variants – the television-guided AJ-168 was an anti-ship missile, while the AS-37 was used to attack radars. Entering service in the early 1970s, the AS-37 was used by the Royal Air Force’s Blackburn Buccaneer S2B combat aircraft. Meanwhile, in French Air Force service, it flew on several types, including the SEPECAT Jaguar E, and Dassault Mirage III and Mirage F1 series jets.

Hawk SAM missile launch [US National Archive]
Iran possessed the potent Hawk SAM system, which was supplied to the country before the 1979 revolution. These were highpriority targets for ARMAT missiles. US National Archive

The AS-37 had also piqued Iraq’s interest. In 1979, the country’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, was consolidating his grip. To the east, Iran was in a maelstrom of revolutionary fervor – Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was ousted as ruler, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was declared supreme leader. Murmurs of war began to grow ever louder as Iranian-Iraqi relations deteriorated. 


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