This fantastic video celebrates the French Super Etendard attack jets that flew for the last time today

A crazy cool clip to say good-bye to the SEM (Super Étendard Modernise).

On Jul. 12, 2016, the French Super Étendard Modernise of the Marine Nationale (French Navy) was retired from active service, 42 years after the subsonic attack jet performed its first flight.

The aircraft, an advanced development of the Étendard IVM that made its maiden flight in October 1974 and entered the active service in June 1978 has taken part to almost all the conflicts that have seen the French Navy participation in the last 40 years: Lebanon, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

During nearly four decades, the jet underwent a series of upgrades: the pure attack Étendard IVMs were retired from French service whilst the SEM became the French Navy’s primary maritime strike and reconnaissance aircraft, capable to deliver PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).

Along with the French Navy, also Iraq and Argentina operated the Super Étendard in combat: the first used it for maritime attack against oil tankers and merchant shipping during the Iraq-Iran War; the second flew the aircraft as Exocet anti-ship missile platform during the 1982 Falklands War (Malvinas for the Argentine).

The aircraft, that will be replaced by the “omnirole” Rafale M jet, undertook its final carrier launch with the French Navy on Mar. 17, 2016.

The following video shows some cool footage of the SEM at work: PGMs, flares, low-level flying, carrier landing, etc.



About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Too cheap and efficient to oparate under overweight XXI defense budgets.
    Let’s retire it and substitute with something more expensive…

  2. A very underrated strike/light fighter aircraft.

    It actually compared well in most respects to its contemporaries (A-4 Skyhawk, Jaguar, AMX). Very fast, very maneuverable in the horizontal plane, good high altitude performance, bullet proof design (100% survival rate against SAM hits)… stuff that made it a winner in combat.

    People who criticize its payload/range don’t get it – the Super Etendard was limited by the French carriers’ weak catapults. That’s why buddy refueling was part of the design from the get-go… it could still sink an enemy carrier 600nm away if asked to.

  3. I couldn’t help but tear up a bit as I watched the video. This is such a fine bird, and it feels far too inopportune to just let it retire in these turbulent times.

    Many thanks to Dassault-Breguest and the French for building such a beautiful aircraft.

  4. A page of our aeronautic History has been turned, and I’m quite sad to
    never see SEM again, but that plane was really reaching the end of its
    life. Failures became longer and more difficult to fix that which
    increased the costs per flight hour and decreased its availability .

  5. Not a nice aircraft for a brit that has memories of ’82. My god though, the French know what cool looks like. Epic video.

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