A MM40 Block 3 Exocet being launched. The booster section and air intakes unique to the Block 3 are clearly visible.
Source: MBDA (Michel Hans) - © copyright lies with original owner
The MM40 Block 3 Exocet is a modern anti-ship missile of French origin. The Block 3 is a deep modernization of the earlier Block 2 missile and was developed at the request of the French government. The missile was test fired from the first time from a warship in 2010.
The Exocet Block 3 is produced either as a new missile or using Block 2 warhead and guidance section. The turbojet engine allows for a much longer range, maneuvers at sea and re-attack capability. The Block 3 looks somewhat different from earlier Exocet missiles. It has a new large booster section and a shorter propulsion section with four air inlets in between the four main wings.
The Block 3 Exocet uses a turbojet engine powered by JP10 aviation fuel instead of a solid propellant rocket motor. This more than doubles the range over the Block 2 while retaining the high subsonic flight speed. The engine has four air inlets, which allows for high G maneuvers. The Block III can be launched from Block II launch tubes. Most fire control systems allow the use of both Block II and III missiles.
The Block 3 retains the improved active radar homing seeker introduced in the Block 2 upgrade. The improved GPS guidance now also allows for a land attack capability. The turbojet engine is capable of maneuvers at sea, allowing a single vessel to attack a target from multiple angles. The Block 3 is also the first Exocet with a re-attack capability. In 2018 a Block 3C update was announced with improved data processing and mission planning software. The Block 3C is reportedly capable of selecting a certain target from a group of ships and selecting an optimal point of impact.
The Exocet Block 3 has a maximum range of 180 to 200 km while moving a high subsonic speeds. The improved range is mainly used for maneuvers at sea. The blast fragmentation warhead is of reasonable use against land based targets and should be effective against command post equipment, SAM sites and coastal defense systems.
The first and foremost user of the Exocet Block 3 is France, which uses it on several classes of frigates and destroyers. The Block 3 has also been exported to various nations that acquired previous types of Exocet missiles or ships of French design.
An overview of Exocet missile variant is provided in the MM38 article. The MM38 is the first operational Exocet variant.
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