France could send Exocet anti-ship missiles to Ukraine

According to a tweet published by Jean-Dominique Merchet on June 3, 2022, France could send Exocet anti-ship missiles built by MBDA to the Ukrainian Forces.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missile (Picture source: MBDA)

The Exocet is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The Exocet saw its first wartime launch during the Falklands War.

Development began in 1967 by Nord as a ship-launched weapon named the MM38. A few years later, Aerospatiale and Nord merged. The basic body design was based on the Nord AS-30 air-to-ground tactical missile.

The sea-launched MM38 entered service in 1975, whilst the air-launched AM39 Exocet began development in 1974 and entered service with the French Navy five years later in 1979.

The relatively compact missile is designed for attacking small- to medium-size warships (e.g., frigates, corvettes, and destroyers), although multiple hits are effective against larger vessels, such as aircraft carriers.

It is guided inertially in mid-flight and turns on active radar homing late in its flight to find and hit its target. As a countermeasure against air defence around the target, it maintains a very low altitude while inbound, staying just one to two meters above the sea surface.

Due to the effect of the radar horizon, this means that the target may not detect an incoming attack until the missile is only 6,000 metres (3.7 mi) from impact.

Its rocket motor, which is fuelled by solid propellant, gives the Exocet a maximum range of 70 kilometres (43 mi; 38 nmi). It was replaced on the Block 3 MM40 ship-launched version of the missile with a solid-propellant booster and a turbojet sustainer engine which extends the range of the missile to more than 180 kilometres (110 mi; 97 nmi). The submarine-launched version places the missile inside a launch capsule.

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