Atlantique 2 firing Exocet AM39
Atlantique 2 firing Exocet AM39

Exocet AM39 Airborne Anti-ship Missile


Exocet AM39 is the airborne version of the Exocet anti-ship missile family. It can be launched from strike aircraft, Maritime Patrol Aircraft and helicopters. With a range of up to 70 km, depending on the altitude and speed of the aircraft, the Exocet AM39 enables the aircraft to remain at range from enemy air defences. When carrying out a low altitude attack, the missile may also be launched under the target ship radar coverage. Ingress is at a very low altitude over the sea (sea skimming). Exocet AM39 is primarily useful against small warships like frigates and corvettes due to its small warhead size although multiple hits are effective against larger vessels, such as destroyer and aircraft carriers.
Exocet AM39 on French Navy Dassult Rafale Fighter
Exocet AM39 on French Navy Dassult Rafale Fighter

Exocet AM39 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) and has a range of 50-70 km. 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.

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Exocet AM39 under Brazilian Navy EC725 Helicopter
Exocet AM39 under Brazilian Navy EC725 Helicopter

Exocet (Flying fish) is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. 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 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. To date, about 4 000 Exocets have been produced and only by the French company Aerospatiale (now part of MBDA).

 French Navy Atlantique 2 firing Exocet AM39
French Navy Atlantique 2 firing Exocet AM39
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