Hirondelle Missile System
By mid-1971 proposals were being studied by Electronique Marcel Dassault (EMD) for an advanced surface-to-air anti-missile missile to be called Hirondelle [Swallow]. Purpose of the missile is to counter the threat posed by sea-skimming antishipping missiles of the Exocet type, for which it was hitherto believed there was no counter.
The complete system comprises a warning and tracking radar, which will be ship-mounted and will incorporate the usual ECM and ECCM equipment; a fire control system; and one or more launcher batteries holding four or eight missiles. Missile guidance is reported to use the Doppler effect to minimise radar noise and clutter.
The concept of Hirondelle is a logical progression stemming from the development of air- or sea- launched anti-shipping missiles, although it had yet to be made clear whether the initiative has come from the manufacturer, with an eye on an extensive world market, or from a firm requirement expressed by defense staffs.
There was no doubt that such a weapon is needed and it is noteworthy that its development is proceeding almost parallel with that of the missile it is intended to destroy.
Precisely how Hirondelle was to be deployed and operated had not been revealed, as has the manufacturer of the missile itself, but it is obvious that, even with a high reaction time, multiple firing would be standard procedure if a realistic kill probability figure is to be achieved.
The systems consist of Matra Super 530 missiles fired from a quadruple launcher and using the ship's tracking radar for target illumination. Hirondelle would arm vessels such as La Combattante II patrol boats, and by 1974 land-launched versions were also studied.
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