Super Etendard naval single-seat strike fighter
The Super Etendard is a carrier-based single-seat strike fighter first introduced into service in 1978. It is an updated version of the Etendard IVM. Based on experience gained during the Korean war (1950-53), French authorities drew up specifications for a light interceptor. This definition was rapidly assimilated into a program for a light tactical bomber that could also fulfil an air superiority mission. At the same time, NATO published its requirements for the LWTSF (Light Weight Tactical Strike Fighter). In response, the Dassault company presented its Mirage and Etendard aircraft.
To meet the needs of both national and NATO programs, Dassault carried over the aerodynamic design of its Super-Mystère, applying it to smaller aircraft equipped with power plants that could reach transonic speeds without afterburners.
This led to the design of the Mystère XXII (Etendard II), Mystère XXIV (Etendard IV) and Mystère XXVI (Etendard VI), developments which were remarkable for improving lift so that take-off and landing became possible at reduced speeds.
The Etendard IV M was the first naval aircraft developed by Dassault. The Etendard IV M made its maiden flight 21st May 1958 at Melun-Villaroche (the Seine-et-Marne region of France). The wings of the aircraft are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered with blunt tips there are sawtooth in the leading edges. There is one turbojet engine inside the body. There are semicircular air intakes below the canopy and a single exhaust. The fuselage has a long, pointed nose. The body bulges at the air intakes and tapers to the rear. T
here is a bubble canopy well forward on the nose. The dorsal spine extends from the cockpit to midbody. The tail is large, swept-back, and tapered tail fin with curved tip. The flats are low- to mid-mounted on the tail fin, swept-back, and tapered with blunt tips.
Between 1961 and 1965, the French Navy took delivery of 69 Etendard IV M's and 21 Etendard IV P's. The Etendard IV M continued in service in the French Navy until July 1991. These aircraft logged a total of 180,000 flying hours and made 25,300 carrier landings. Even today, there are still several Etendard IV P's and IV PM's in service.
The naval single-seater combat aircraft, Dassault Super-Etendard, is a modernized version of the Etendard IV M. Main modifications include updating of the weapons system through the installation (a first for a French production aircraft) of a modern navigation and combat management system. The aircraft prototype made its maiden flight 28 October 1974 at Istres (the Bouches-du-Rhône region of France).
The French Navy commissioned the plane for the first time in 1977 and 71 aircraft are now in service on the aircraft carriers Foch and Clemenceau. This plane, armed with Exocet missiles and flown by Argentinian pilots (14 aircraft), proved its combat effectiveness during the Malvinas [Falklands] war with Britain in 1982.
The Exocet is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Hundreds were fired in combat during the 1980s. Its solid propellant engine gives the Exocet a maximum range of 70 kilometres (43 mi; 38 nmi). The solid-propellant engine was replaced on the Block 3 MM40 ship-launched version of the missile with a solid-propellant booster and a turbojet sustainer engine which extends the range to 180 kilometres (110 mi; 97 nmi). The submarine-launched version places the missile and a naval booster inside a launch capsule.
The Super-Etendard will be replaced by the naval version of the multi-role combat aircraft Rafale at the beginning of the 21st century.
The Argentine Naval Aviation decided to buy 14 Super Étendards in 1980, after the United States put an arms embargo in place—due to the Dirty War—and refused to supply spare parts for their A-4Q Skyhawks. Assigned to 2nd Naval Air Fighter/Attack Squadron, Argentine pilots used French flight trainers between November 1980 and August 1981 in France, but at the time of the Falklands War, they had received only 45 hours of actual flight time in the aircraft. Between August and November 1981, five Super Étendards and five Exocets were shipped to Argentina. All five of the missiles were used during the conflict, with one missile hitting the British destroyer HMS Sheffield and two the merchant aircraft transporter Atlantic Conveyor. Two missiles were used in each of those attacks.
The fifth missile was launched in an attack intended to strike against the British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible but the attacking aircraft failed to find their target. (A sixth Exocet, which was fired from an improvised land based launcher failed to acquire a target, but the seventh missile hit and the warhead detonated causing casualties and damage to HMS Glamorgan. This launcher was designed by Argentine technicians.)
Once the conflict was over, Super Etendards performed qualifications on aircraft carrier ARA 25 de Mayo until the ship's final retirement  From 2001, qualifications are made on Brazilian Navy carrier São Paulo  and/or touch-and-go on US Navy carriers during Gringo-Gaucho maneuvers when they are in transit within Argentine coastal waters.
As of 2010, Argentine Super Étendards are still in service  and French cooperation to upgrade the aircraft was announced.