An additional batch of Exocet MM40 B3C sea-to-sea missiles has been ordered for the French Navy

An additional batch of Exocet MM40 B3C sea-to-sea missiles has been ordered for the French Navy
An additional batch of Exocet MM40 B3C sea-to-sea missiles has been ordered for the French Navy

In September, the multi-mission frigate with reinforced air defense capability [FREMM-DA] Alsace was the first French Navy ship to fire an Exocet MM40 Block 3C anti-ship missile, during a technical-operational evaluation “representative of a combat in an electronic warfare environment”, carried out off the coast of Toulon .

“This operational evaluation firing of an Exocet MM-40B3C […] was a total success. It demonstrates the new capabilities of this very latest generation of the missile, major developments adapted to a high-intensity context,” said Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA.

This has recently had another opportunity to rejoice since the General Directorate of Armaments [DGA] announced on May 24 that it had notified MBDA of an order “for the acquisition of MM40 B3C sea-to-sea Exocet missiles intended to equip the first-tier frigates of the French Navy, in accordance with the Military Programming Law [LPM] 2024-30”.

If it indeed provides for an effort of 16 billion euros for “the consolidation of ammunition stocks” and the continuation of the “transition” towards “future capabilities”, the public version of the LPM 2024-30 does not specify the number of MM40 B3C to be ordered.

However, LPM 2019-25 indicated that 55 examples of the new sea-to-sea missile version would be acquired to equip the FREMM. Only, due to “industrial delays in [leur] development”, partly due to the impact of the health crisis [du covid-19, ndlr] on industrial capacities”, according to a budget document from the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, their delivery could not be made within the initially planned deadlines.

In any case, specified the DGA, “these missiles will be added to the MM40 B3C munitions already ordered. […] A modernization ensured by MBDA of the MM40 B3 missiles in stock towards the B3C version is also in progress,” specified the DGA.

Compared to its predecessors, the MM40 B3C has a digital radio altimeter and a new active electromagnetic seeker. The latter are supposed to improve its capacity in the face of “the major challenge represented by the generalization of new generation electronic countermeasures and stealth ships”, underlines the DGA. It can reach an enemy ship more than 200 km away, flying at an altitude of 2 meters [vol en sea-skimming, ndlr]. Equipped with a “fire and forget” capability, this 6 meter long and more than 800 kg machine is also able to “discriminate” targets.

Photo: DGA Missile Tests

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