The Aerial Image Measurement System (AIMS)* for 193 nm lithography emulation has been brought into operation successfully worldwide. A second generation system comprising 193 nm AIMS capability, mini-environment and SMIF, the AIMS fab 193 plus is currently introduced into the market. By adjustment of numerical aperture (NA), illumination type and partial illumination coherence to match the conditions in 193 nm steppers or scanners, it can emulate the exposure tool for any type of reticles like binary, OPC and PSM down to the 65 nm node. The system allows a rapid prediction of wafer printability of defects or defect repairs, and critical features, like dense patterns or contacts on the masks without the need to perform expensive image qualification consisting of test wafer exposures followed by SEM measurements. Therefore, AIMS is a mask quality verification standard for high-end photo masks and established in mask shops worldwide. The progress on the AIMS technology described in this paper will highlight that besides mask shops there will be a very beneficial use of the AIMS in the wafer fab and we propose an Automated Reticle Defect Disposition (ARDD) process. With smaller nodes, where design rules are 65 nm or less, it is expected that smaller defects on reticles will occur in increasing numbers in the wafer fab. These smaller mask defects will matter more and more and become a serious yield limiting factor. With increasing mask prices and increasing number of defects and severability on reticles it will become cost beneficial to perform defect disposition on the reticles in wafer production. Currently ongoing studies demonstrate AIMS benefits for wafer fab applications. An outlook will be given for extension of 193 nm aerial imaging down to the 45 nm node based on emulation of immersion scanners.