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SHIP KILLER: THE EXOCET

The two Iraqi fighters shot down in a dogfight with Saudi pilots were thought to be loaded with French-made Exocet missiles. The Exocet, which gained notoriety during the 1982 war in the Falkland Islands, is designed to destroy ships. Here are some facts:

ARSENAL: Iraq is believed to have at least 178 anti-ship missiles in its arsenal, including 120 air- or sea-launched Exocets. In addition, Iraq may also have several large Soviet-built anti-ship missiles.

MANUFACTURER: Developed by French aeronautical firm Aerospatiale.

DANGEROUS: Iraq’s Exocet arsenal includes both the ship-launched MM38 and air-launched AM39. Delivered by a fighter plane like Iraq’s Mirage F1, the AM39 is considered one of the world’s deadliest anti-ship missiles. The AM39 is capable of hitting targets at distances up to 40 miles, while the MM38 has a range of about 26 miles.

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FAST: Top missile speed is Mach 0.93, nearly the speed of sound. Detection and interception can be difficult because each missile can perform sea-skimming flight maneuvers.

WIDESPREAD: More than two dozen other countries have Exocets, including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Brunei, Chile, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman and Peru.

Source: Forecast International


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