Origins and prototypes
The Super-Étendard was France’s first combat aircraft featuring modern weapon outfits. For Dassault, after the Mirage Milan experience it is also a foothold in new serially-produced weapon systems. On January 19, 1973, the then Minister of State in charge of national defense Michel Debré chose the Super-Étendard as the French Navy’s multipurpose weapon aircraft that would ultimately replace the Étendard IV, Crusader and Alizé.
It awarded the contract for 100 Super-Étendard aircraft on September 4, 1973. That was the first fixed-price contract Dassault was awarded for an airplane.
Jacques Jesberger flew the Super-Étendard 01 (Étendard 68) for its maiden flight out of Istres, on October 28, 1974. That aircraft was used to develop the engine and aerodynamic tests.
Production and operational experience
The first serially-produced aircraft, powered by a Snecma Atar 8 K 50 engine, flew on 24 November 1977, out of Mérignac, with Jacques Jesberger at the helm. It was France’s first military operation plane fitted with an inertial navi/attack system.
The Landivisiau Squadron 11 F was the first to be equipped with Super-Étendard aircraft, in September 1978. Landivisiau Squadron 14 F followed in 1979, and the Hyères Squadron 17 F did so in 1980. In 1991, onboard fighter squadron 59 S traded its Étendard IV Ms for Super-Etendards
In July 1979, Argentina placed an order for 14 Super-Étendards. In April 1982, it occupied the Falkland islands, unleashing a fierce conflict with the United Kingdom. After that war, the embargo on Argentina was lifted and the nine thereunto-undelivered aircraft and spare parts needed to fly them were delivered. In 1983, 5 of these aircraft were leased to Iraq.