The Exocet (French for “flying fish”) is a French anti-ship missile developed in the 1970s. While lacking in warhead size and range, this battle-tested missile is still in production. The Exocet is cheap, effective, and can be launched from submarines, ships, and aircraft.
Development began in the 1970s. The original goal was to create a surface-to-surface anti-ship missile for use on warships. Since then, versions for submarine and aircraft usage have emerged.
This missile is an internally guided weapon. When it is about 12-15 kilometers from the target, it begins to utilize its active radar. The Exocet has a solid-fuel rocket motor. It can reach a top speed of Mach 0.9 (1 130 km/h).
The main advantage of the Exocet is its low flight altitude (generally 1-2 meters above the water). Due to this low altitude, this sea-skimming missile can often avoid detection until it is about 6 000 meters from the target, which leaves little time for launching surface-to-air missiles. Consequently, this missile has a good hit probability.
The Exocet is primarily useful against small warships like frigates and corvettes due to its small warhead size.
To date, about 4 000 Exocets have been produced and only by the French company Aerospatiale (now part of MBDA).
Unlike some anti-ship missiles, the Exocet has been heavily tested in combat. In the 1982 Falkland Islands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina, Argentina used Exocet missiles extensively. They succeeded in damaging the HMS Sheffield, Atlantic Conveyor, and HMS Glamorgan. The Exocet was also heavily used in the Iran-Iraq War. It gained international notoriety when an Iraqi Mirage F1 pilot shot two Exocet missiles at the USS Stark, heavily damaging it. Source military-today.com
Exocet at a Glance
Originated From: France
Possessed By: Numerous (see table below)
Class: Anti-ship Cruise Missile
Length: 4.69- 5.95 m
Diameter: 350 mm
Launch Weight: 655-870 kg
Payload: Single warhead
Warhead: 165 kg HE fragmentation or semi-armor piercing
Propulsion: Solid fueled (MM40 Block 3 uses a Microturbo TRI 40 turbojet)
Range: 40-180 km
In Service: 1975
The original Exocet missile, the ship-launched MM38, was developed in 1967 and entered into service in 1975. The MM38 is a solid-propellant missile with a range of 40 km. It is 5.21 m long, with a body diameter of 0.35, and a launch weight of 735 kg with a 165 kg payload. The MM38 has an inertial navigation system, an active radar seeker, and is equipped with a high explosive fragmentation warhead. Production on the MM38 was discontinued in 2002. 4
The MM40 missile is an upgraded version of the MM38 that began development in 1976. It is 5. 8 m long, allowing for the missile to carry the additional propellant needed to achieve an increased range of 70 km. The MM40 has a body diameter of 350 mm and a launch weight of 870 kg. MM40 Block 2 missiles are equipped with upgraded inertial navigation and control systems that allow them to fly 2-3 m altitude, differentiate between several targets, and are capable of preforming preprogrammed maneuvers. 5 The MM40 has an inertial navigation system, an active radar seeker, and is equipped with a high explosive fragmentation warhead. The MM40 remains in service as well as continued production.
The SM39 is the sub-launched variant of the Exocet missile family and has a range of 50 km. It has a length of 4.69 m and a diameter of 350 mm. Alone, the missile itself weighs 655 kg, but the weight increases to 1,345 kg when combined with the VSM (Vehicule Sous-Marin) container launch module. Although the VSM is necessary for launch, the missile separates from the container at a low altitude after breaking surface. The missile maintains a sea-skimming level while using an internal navigation system and autonomous terminal guidance in pursuit of the target. 6
Production on the AM39, the air-launched variant in the Exocet family, began in 1974 and the missile entered service in 1979. Weighing 670 kg with a length of 4.69 m and a diameter of 350 mm, the AM39 can have a range between 50-70 km depending on the speed and altitude of the carrying aircraft. Updates to the AM39 include an updated laser gyro inertial system (INS), improved digital computing in the active radar seeker, updates to the sea-skimming altitude control, guidance and control systems, and evasive capabilities such as the ability to maneuver in the terminal phase 7The AM39 is operational as well as under continued production.
Exocet MM40 Block 3
The MM40 Block 3 missile, complete with a Microturbo TRI 40 turbojet engine, began development 2004 and was first tested from a ship in 2010. 8 Improvements to the MM40 Block 3 include internal navigation and GPS upgrades. These updates, combined with a frequency modulated continuous wave radar altimeter, allows for control of the missile’s altitude over various types of terrain. This missile is armed with a 160 kg high explosive/semi-armour piercing warhead and an active radar terminal seeker 9 Additional upgrades include increased evasive capabilities such as the ability to make a 180 degree turn post-launch, allowing the MM40 to evade defense missile systems. These upgraded missiles will be both ship- and ground-launched and will be deployed first onto Forbin (Horizon)-class destroyers and then to La Fayette-class frigates. 10 Source missilethreat.csis.org
Video: French Navy Horizon Class Destroyer Forbin Launches an MM40 Exocet Anti-ship Missile
Saturday, 14 May 2016 06:18
French Navy’s Horizon-class AAW Destroyer Forbin (classified as “Frigate” in the French Navy) succesfully test-fired an MM40 Blk II anti-ship missile, the French Navy (Marine Nationale) announced. The test took place on May 9th in the Mediterranean Sea
An MBDA-made MM40 Block II Exocet anti-ship missile is launched from the Horizon-class Destroyer Forbin. Picture: French Navy
According to the French Navy, the goal of the test was to train the crew in anti-surface warfare (ASUW) for an upcomming operational deployment.
The French Navy describes the MM40 Block II as an “over the horizon” missile. It is the main ASUW weapon on board the Cassard class (F70AA), Leygues class (F70 ASM), and Lafayette class frigates.
Main specifications of the missile:
Length : 5,20 m
Diameter : 0,35 m
Weight : 735 kg
Warhead : 165 kg
Speed : Mach 1
Range : 70 km
Exocet, in production since 1972, was the West’s first long range anti-ship missile with “fire and forget” and sea-skimming flight capabilities. Since entering service in 1972, 3,600 EXOCET missiles, in all configurations, have been sold to 35 countries.
The MM40 Block II onboard Horizon class destroyers will ultimatly be replaced by the newer Block III version currently under production by MBDA. The Block III features many improvements: It is fitted with a booster and has a significantly extended operational range making it a 200 km class weapon and features open ocean, littoral and coastal land attack capabilities. The new Block III is compatible with Block II launchers
The Horizon-class destroyers were built under the Horizon programme to meet a joint requirement for four anti-air warfare destroyers with a displacement of approximately 7,000 tonnes (two for the French Navy and two for the Italian Navy). The programme was a multinational collaboration between France and Italy. The primary weapon system was developed and produced in partnership with the UK.
Horizon-class destroyers are equipped with the Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS), a joint French/Italian/British programme for a naval anti-aircraft weapon. Both vessels have been deployed during Operation Harmattan. Off the coast of Libya, they have ensured the protection of naval groups around the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and Tonnerre and Mistral LHDs. They also conducted coastal fire support operations and coordinated the air activity for the coalition operating off the coast of Libya.
The French Navy destroyer FS Forbin (D620) in the Arabian Sea
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rafael Figueroa Medina/Released)
Original post navyrecognition.com
Horizon-class destroyer: Details
Revised Feb 08, 2020