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Anti-ship missile

Exocet missile

The Exocet anti-ship missile is useful against small warships like frigates and corvettes

Country of origin France
Entered service 1979
Missile length 4.7 m
Missile diameter 0.35 mm
Wing span 1 - 1.1 m
Launch weight 670 kg
Warhead weight 165 kg
Warhead type Conventional
Range of fire 42 - 180 km


   The Exocet (French for “flying fish”) is a French anti-ship missile developed in the 1970s. While lacking in warhead size and range, this battle-tested missile is still in production. The Exocet is cheap, effective, and can be launched from submarines, ships, and aircraft.

   Development began in the 1970s. The original goal was to create a surface-to-surface anti-ship missile for use on warships. Since then, versions for submarine and aircraft usage have emerged.

   This missile 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).

   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.

   The Exocet is primarily useful against small warships like frigates and corvettes due to its small warhead size.

   To date, about 4 000 Exocets have been produced and only by the French company Aerospatiale (now part of MBDA).

   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 used Exocet missiles extensively. They 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.




   MM38: is the surface-launched version with a range of 42 km. It has since been superseded by the MM40.

   AM38: prototype-only helicopter-launched variant.

   AM39: air-launched version for various kinds of aircraft. The AM39 has a range of 50-70 km.

   SM39: submarine-launched version. It is deployed in a watertight capsule. Upon reaching the surface, this capsule falls off and the motor ignites.

   MM40: improved surface variant for ships and land batteries. It features three different Blocks. The most recent model of the MM40 (Block III) entered service in 2008 and has a turbojet engine with a range of at least 180 km.


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Exocet missile

Exocet missile

Exocet missile

Exocet missile

Exocet missile

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