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Updated Exocet completes operational evaluation firing

The MM40 Block 3c Exocet operational evaluation firing was performed from the frigate Alsace on 20 September. (Marine Nationale)

The French Navy has completed an operational evaluation firing of the new Block 3c iteration of MBDA's MM40 Exocet surface-to-surface guided missile.

Undertaken from the Aquitaine-class multimission frigate Alsace in the Mediterranean in late September, the test was designed to prove the performance of the anti-ship missile, most notably the upgraded J-band active radar seeker introduced with the new Block 3c ‘front end'. MBDA and the Directorate General of Armaments (Direction générale de l'armement: DGA) supported the test, which was performed on the DGA Essais de Missiles range off the Île du Levant island.

The MM40 Block 3c sub-variant (‘c' indicating coherent) introduces a Thales-built coherent active radar seeker as the centrepiece of a ‘digitised' guidance and navigation package. The new seeker and associated algorithms afford significant improvements in both all-weather target selectivity and electronic counter-countermeasures performance.

In a statement detailing the 20 September test – designated Operation ‘Taennchel' – the French Navy said the MM40 Block 3c missile “followed the planned trajectory perfectly, and demonstrated the performance of its latest generation seeker via a final sequence representative of [an engagement] in an electronic warfare environment”.

The development of the coherent seeker, as the basis for Block 3c, was approved in mid-2011, with the DGA awarding a contract in late 2011 for 35 new missiles. An order for a further 20 new-build MM40 Block 3c missiles was confirmed in 2021. In addition, a total of 45 upgrade kits have been ordered to update existing MM40 Block 3 rounds to the Block 3c standard.

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