France buys latest version of Exocet missile for naval frigates

Last week, French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu announced an additional order for the latest version of the Exocet missile, the MM40 Block 3C, from MBDA France.

This order aligns with the military programming law, which aims to equip French frigates with advanced, precise, and resilient sea-to-sea missiles.

The Exocet MM40 Block 3C is the latest generation of ship-borne missiles in the Exocet family, currently in operational service with several navies. This new version offers enhanced operational performance and technology upgrades while keeping procurement and logistic support costs manageable.

The missiles will complement the MM40 B3C munitions already ordered, with deliveries having commenced in January 2024. Additionally, MBDA France is upgrading the MM40 B3 missiles in service to the B3C version.

Key features of the Exocet MM40 Block 3C include a sophisticated navigation package that allows for optimized 3D approach trajectories and terminal attacks from various angles at very low sea-skimming altitudes. The missile’s terminal guidance uses a J-band active seeker to accurately discriminate and select targets at sea, while GPS accuracy is employed for land targets.

The flexibility of the Exocet MM40 Block 3C is further enhanced by its Mission Planning software module, which automatically computes engagement plans to support firing decisions. This missile system is compatible with most logistic support assets already in service, and its launching system is interoperable with all MM40 versions, ensuring a smooth transition to the new Block 3C.

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