The French Ministry of the Armies has confirmed the acquisition of EXOCET MM40 Block 3C missiles from MBDA to bolster its maritime defence capabilities.

By the Military Programming Law 2024-2030, this procurement is an investment in enhancing the operational capacity of the French Navy’s first-rate frigates.

The decision to acquire the advanced EXOCET MM40 Block 3C missiles comes when modern Naval warfare demands heightened precision, extended range, and increased resilience against electronic countermeasures. With a range surpassing 200 km, the upgraded B3C version incorporates a digital radio altimeter and a new seeker for optimal performance despite threats posed by next-generation electronic warfare systems and stealth vessels.

The French Navy successfully tested MBDA’s anti-ship missile, the Exocet MM40 Block 3c (MM40 B3c), from the multi-mission Alsace frigate (FREMM DA) on September 20, 2023.

The EXOCET MM40 Block 3C missiles are poised to equip various first-rate frigates, including the multi-mission frigate (FREMM), air defence frigate (FDA), and future defence and intervention frigate (FDI), thereby enhancing the French Navy’s operational flexibility and versatility.

According to GlobalData’s intelligence on the French defence market, the French Navy has signed a multi-year contract with Naval Group to develop and produce five new FDI-class frigates for an estimated contract allocation (2023–33) of $2bn (€1.9bn).

The production of these missiles also serves France’s industry, with a network of subcontractors contributing to the manufacturing process across the country. The EXOCET MM40 Block 3C missiles are to be assembled at the MBDA site in Selles-Saint-Denis (Loir-et-Cher).

Furthermore, the recent completion of technical-operational evaluation shots, coordinated by the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) in collaboration with the French Navy, reveals the testing and validation process undertaken to ensure the efficacy of these next-generation munitions. The successful evaluation shot was conducted from the multi-mission frigate, which had enhanced air defence capability (FREMM DA). Alsace validated the performance of the B3C seeker in electronic warfare scenarios.