Publication: SA Navy
Reporter: Lt Cdr PG van den Berg
Whippet - Successful Combined Tactical Firing of Exocet Missiles
Published to the web November 2007
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
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
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 :
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.
- "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."
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