Friday, April 30, 2010


Being somewhat of an aviation fan, I have for some reason always had a soft spot for a remarkable French naval fighter, the Dassault-Bréguet Super Etendard.


This one is photographed here on the deck of the French carrier Charles de Gaulle.

It's not that it's extraordinarily fast (top speed 1,180 kmph, or 733mph) nor that it can carry a sizeable bomb load (only 2,1 tonnes). I suppose it's the aircraft's clean cut, sleek lines that do it for me.


Above you see a Super Etendard Modernisé (SEM) in the Afghan skies. That's right, the French use a small number of these planes in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. If I'm not mistaken, the French naval air arm has deployed three to operate from KAF, alongside Mirage 2000's from the Armée de l'Air.

Brits however have less rosey recollections of this plane. During the Falklands War in 1982, the Argentines had on hand some five Super Etendards, the first batch of around 15 which they had recently purchased at the time from the French. Also available were the notorious Exocet anti-shipping missiles. The Argentinian air force used them to deadly effect against several British RN and MN ships, notably the HMS Sheffield and the cargo Atlantic Conveyor.

Five years later, in 1987, these same Exocet missiles would cause the deaths of 37 US crewmen on board the USS Stark in the Persian Gulf, in circumstances that to this day remain unclear. The plane(s) that fired them were no Super Etendards however (although the Iraqis did have 5 on loan from France), but Mirage F-1's.


And a magnificent shot of a Super Etendard taking off.

Nite all. And oh yeah, the only quakes today probably occurred in the Hojateslam's underwear.


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