Say Au Revoir To The Super Étendard With This Heart-Pounding Video

After nearly 40 years of service with the Marine Nationale, the “SEM” proudly bows out.

YoutTube Screencap

After making its last catapult launch from France’s nuclear aircraft carrier the Charles De Gaulle last March, the end was clearly near for the subsonic, swept-wing naval attack jet. Now, the curtain has finally dropped on its amazingly productive career.

The Super Étendard Modernisé, or SEM as it's lovingly called, took the fight to France’s enemies right up until the end, providing targeting support and striking ISIS following the terrorist attacks on Paris last winter. The fact that SEM was still in the fight at all nearly 40 years after it entered service was pretty amazing considering its age, and its less-than-cutting-edge performance. A series of bolt-on modernization efforts during the jet’s golden years kept it relevant, but, alas, the time has come to pass the torch to the Dassault Rafale-M, a jet that has itself been in development and operationally evolving for decades.

Although France’s small SEM fleet has flown its last flights, Argentina still maintains about a dozen Super Étendards—though the actual flyable number may be about half that number. It's unclear if parts from France’s fleet will be used to augment Argentina’s struggling force, or if France’s SEMs will be marketed for resale, though it's doubtful.

Originally best known for its ability to sling Exocet anti-ship missiles with devastating results, and for providing laser targeting support in its later years, the SEM will be missed. The jet was both humble and somehow sexy at the same.

Leave it to the French to pull off such a feat.

Contact the author Tyler@thedrive.com