Publication: SA Navy Issued: Date: 2007-11-01 Reporter: Lt Cdr PG van den Berg

Exercise Whippet - Successful Combined Tactical Firing of Exocet Missiles

Published to the web November 2007

SA Navy
Lt Cdr P.G. van den Berg

Photos courtesy Naval Weapons Analysis Section (NWAS).

The South African Navy conducted its first combined tactical Exocet Missile firing exercise recently. The two frigates, SAS SPIOENKOP and SAS MENDI, fired the two missiles at MFV AZALEA, a derelict fishing trawler given to the SA Navy by I&J fishing company to sink. The firing was conducted on Thursday 28 June in Exercise Area Pandora, 50 nautical miles south of Cape Point.

SAS PROTEA towed the target towards the missile firing range, while SAS GALESHEWE, a Maritime Patrol Aircraft from 35 Squadron and an Oryx helicopter from 22 Squadron assisted with range clearance.

The two frigates were sailing approximately 7 nm abeam of each other, when they altered course to launch their missiles. The SAS SPIOENKOP, with SAS MENDI stationed to port, fired her missile to starboard whilst SAS MENDI fired her missile to port.

The two Exocet MM40 block 1 missiles left their launchers to arrive at the target within seconds of each other. The target, some 25 nm (47km) away, was broken in two and sunk within minutes.

This exercise proved that the South African Navy is a maritime force to be reckoned with and that the systems and weapons onboard the new frigates are operational and ready.

These Exocet anti-ship missiles (ASMs) cost some R20 million each.

The SA Navy should have purchased 36 of them, 8 for each of the 4 vessels making 32 plus one each for qualification and acceptance of each ship.

It then decided that it didn't have enough money, this being after being taken for a ride by Thomson-CSF and ADS who inflated the R1,9 billion price for the combat suite to R3,9 billion and then settled for R2,6 billion after reducing the scope of supply by about 50%.

All the while Thomson-CSF knows that it's had the top cover because it was regularly and secretly meeting with none other than then Deputy President and Chairman of the Ministers Committee.

So the DoD settles on 17 of them ASMs, 4 for each of the 4 vessels making 16 plus one for qualification and acceptance of the class of ships.

It is now known that at least 3 of these 17 missiles have been expended to date.

At least two of these are Exocet Block 1 missiles. This is a bit surprising since the DoD previously stated that Exocet Block 2 missiles were selected and purchased.

Now the DoD has admitted that it purchased 6 Exocet Block 1 missiles and 11 Exocet Block 2 missiles.

Now this is all very weird.

Whereas it was stated under oath by a senior SA Navy officer seconded to the DoD that the DoD acquired 17 Exocet Block 2 missiles.

All the time this self same person states the following :
"So I don't know why Dr Young claims to be an expert in the costing of missiles. It is actually not his science. But I am afraid, it is just simply untrue and unfounded."

It is clear that many things I was stating about the costing of the corvettes and specifically about the missiles are true and well-founded.

And indeed, as a formally qualified electronics engineer and trained systems engineer and primary member of the Corvette Design Advisory Committee I would contend that this is my science.

Although I concede that the art of major weapon system costing is mainly the domain of bribers and bribees in smokey-roomed hotel rooms in Farnborough, Paris, Dusseldorf and Essen.



The Exocet MM40 Block 1 missile leaves its launcher

Once clear of the launcher the rockets of the missile engage
Notice the cover flying off to the left of the picture

The cover disengages from the missile launcher