Picture of the Week: MM-38 Exocet warhead casing

PETALING JAYA: Its not every day one get to see the warhead section of any missile. So it was very interesting to see the warhead casing of the MM-38 Exocet displayed by the RMN at the Kementerian Pertahanan Innovation Day on Nov 21, 2012.

MM-38 Exocet warhead casing displayed on Nov 21, 2012.

The high explosive charge was removed from the casing (with its shaped charged cap) using a device developed by the RMN EOD team themselves and their work was deemed good enough to win Kementah Innovation 2010 award. Basically the warhead casing is removed from the missile and placed in a water-filled chamber and the explosive charge was sucked out of it.

According to the RMN personnel at the booth, once removed from the casing, the explosive charge which is highly combustible, was destroyed at a range later. From Wikipedia, we know that the warhead weight is 165kg although I am not sure how much is that divided between the steel casing and the actual explosive charge. I did not asked what type of explosive charge used in the warhead but from the video and pictures displayed its was a gooey orange liquid, so it could be a military grade TNT or RDX.

As I had posted previously, the RMN was withdrawing the MM-38 from service, hence the need to scrap and demilitarised the missiles in its inventory. With the home-grown solution, RMN and the other services could scrap their obsolete ordnance safely and cheaply. Shooting them will be more spectacular of course, but the cost getting targets and preparing ships for the firing exercise will probably cost more than simply scrapping them on land. Since the MM-38 is a 60s technology, there is nothing much for us to learn from them anyway!

The retirement of the MM-38s from RMN service is probably a harbinger of things in the future. Even the MM-40 in service are already in their last legs. With the RMN determined to procure the NSM instead of the MM-40 Block III for the LCS/SGPV, it is likely that the only Exocets remaining in service will be those arming the Scorpenes.

RMN is also holding on to its decision to arm the LCS/SGPV with the ESSM instead of VL MICA as being pursued by Boustead as I had mentioned on my various postings on the ship. So when will the ship will be ready for service? I am guessing 2020!

–Malaysian Defence

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