The Navy dangerously exposed to the democratization of anti-ship missiles

On May 4, 1982, an Exocet AM39 missile fired by a patrol of 2 Argentine super-flagships sank the British destroyer Sheffield. Before the end of the Falklands War, the 9 Exocet missiles available to the Argentine forces will have caused two other victims, the logistics ship Atlantic Conveyor on May 25, taking with it almost all of the British Chinnok, and the destroyer Glamorgan, and the destroyer HMS Glamorgan, heavily damaged on 12 June.

However, from the start of the conflict, the French authorities placed Argentine defense equipment, and more particularly the Exocet missile, under embargo. Because if the Argentine navy had had around thirty AM39 exocets as planned, the course of the Falklands campaign would very likely have had a completely different ending.

This example, which is admittedly a little dated, perfectly demonstrates the power that anti-ship missiles represent today. The Saudi and Emirati frigates struck off the Yemeni coast show that the threat is still relevant, but above all, that the anti-ship missile is no longer reserved only for major states.

Therefore, Chinese models, but also Russian, Turkish, Korean and Western, have been massively sold around the world, to regimes that are sometimes careless, or simply corrupt. In fact, the threat posed by anti-ship missiles is no longer exclusive to high-intensity conflicts alone.

However, if there is a navy that has not taken this threat into account, it is the French Navy!

It is common knowledge that French ships are, in general, poorly armed. You only need to look at a Light Stealth Frigate to be convinced. The future FTIs, capable of carrying 32 vertical silos, will only be delivered to the French Navy with 16 of these silos, and therefore missiles.

But above all, the French Navy has never been able to equip its ships with very short range defense systems, or CIWS, like the American Phalanx, the Dutch Goalkeeper. At best, they are equipped with remotely operated cannons, which are incapable of intercepting an anti-ship missile, and with mistral missiles, whose effectiveness against fast missiles is very questionable.

This weakness, resulting from financial arbitrations resulting from the end of the Cold War, is likely, today, to have tragic consequences...

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