Note: This article features Iraqi Air Force airstrike on US Frigate USS Stark on 17th May 1987 when Iraqi jet fired two Exocet-39 missiles on USS Stark.
33 year ago, on this day (17th May 1987), a US Naval Frigate USS Stark was attacked by Iraqi jets. An Iraqi Jet fired two French made Exocet-39 air launched missiles on USS Stark, killing 37 US sailors on board and injuring 21 sailors.
The attacking jets were later identified as Dassault Mirage F-1 jets of Iraqi Air Force. Stark’s search radar and ESM systems failed to detect the incoming missiles. According to investigations, 1st Missile was fired from about 35 kilometres and second one from about 24 kilometres. After this incident, President Saddam apologized and said that the pilot mistook Stark for an Iranian tanker.
Exocet-39 Anti-Ship Missile
It is a French origin Anti-Ship Missile (AshM). It is a Subsonic and battle-proven missile.
This is a fire and forget missile. So, for propulsion, it uses Two-stage solid-propellant motor.
Pakistan also has 2 variants of this missile AM-39 for the Aerial platform and SM-39 for the submarines
AM-39 Anti-Ship Missile Specifications
Weight: 670 kg
Length: 4.69 m
Diameter: 350 mm
Range: 70 km