French Help With Exocet. Letter In Telegraph

#1
There is an interesting letter in today's (Monday 2nd January 2012) Daily Telegraph which I have copied verbatim below (couldn't find it in their online version).

Sir - My recollection of French "assistance" over the Falklands conflict differs from Peter Forrest's account (Letters, December 30).
In 1982 I ran the division of Marconi, the defence arm of the General Electric Company, then responsible for the target-seeker guidance systems for British radar homing missiles. We offered to help the Ministry of Defence to develop counter-measures to the Exocet guidance system. We needed an Exocet seeker (which the Royal Navy could have supplied from its in-service stock of weapons, and authority to run it in a test chamber and to open it up and investigate the design. MOD colleagues told us they had sought permission of the French to do so but had been refused.
Brian Richards
Watford, Hertfordshire

Interesting isn't it? I wondered why the peacetime niceties of respecting another manafacturers intellectual property should be respected in wartime, when men and materiel are being lost. Why didn't the MOD have the cojones to give Marconi the go-ahead and worry about smoothing ruffled feathers later when British lives and property were no longer at risk?
 
#2
I can imagine the answer lies in escalation fears. We know how touchy French feathers can be re ruffling; they might have advised Argies how to update the missiles to make them more effective or some such
 
#3
Depends if you have the purchase muscle to make 'nice' with the manufacturer after the smoke clears.

Better to ask forgiveness than permission?
 
#4
Do whatever is required. In war you must play to win, there are no 2nd prizes as the cost of victory is always high. Bugger the French and pandering to niceties. Peole were killed by exocets.
 
#5
I remember listening to a Radio 4 programme years ago explaining the whole Exocet problem and how the British, through various sneaky means, MI6 & dodgy arms dealers, were buying up, ordering, stalling and generally ****ing about to stop the Argies getting hold of any more.

It also went through the meetings between Thatcher and François Mitterrand where she was wanting the French to release Exocet guidance info - Mitterrand flatly refused as it could have crippled the French Defence Industry, then Thatcher explained that if the French didn't assist Buenos Aries would be mostly disappearing :) (The outcomes of the 'discussions' were the beginnings of closer ties with Europe and the start of a little tunnel under water idea.)
 
#7
I remember listening to a Radio 4 programme years ago explaining the whole Exocet problem and how the British, through various sneaky means, MI6 & dodgy arms dealers, were buying up, ordering, stalling and generally ****ing about to stop the Argies getting hold of any more.

It also went through the meetings between Thatcher and François Mitterrand where she was wanting the French to release Exocet guidance info - Mitterrand flatly refused as it could have crippled the French Defence Industry, then Thatcher explained that if the French didn't assist Buenos Aries would be mostly disappearing :) (The outcomes of the 'discussions' were the beginnings of closer ties with Europe and the start of a little tunnel under water idea.)

The French offered full support to the UK during the FI conflict.

Don't believe what you hear otherwise.
 
#9
One must ask the question, would they have had the time to investigate, solve the problem and then install the solution on board ships that were already in combat in the time available. Was this really a non starter frrm the begining.
 
#10
"The French offered full support"

What - like the full support we gave in 1914 and 1939, when they had a bit of trouble with the neighbours?

Would "full support" be like sending a French carrier group to support their neighbour, or warning the Argentinians not to use their French supplied weapons against an ally who had supported them at great cost in their hours of greatest need.

Perhaps the full support was nothing more than a gallic sniff and shrug of the shoulders. Did they even cut off diplomatic contacts with an Argentine government headed up by a despotic and desperate General. Close their embassy, re-call their ambassador for consultation? Did they even send a stiff letter of complaint?

So hardly full support at all then!
 
#11
The French offered full support to the UK during the FI conflict.

Don't believe what you hear otherwise.
Doesn't sound very French to me! :) Was full support from the start or after threats were made?

The programme I listened to was on years ago - I'll see if I can dig up anything on it.

I believe it was Mitterand himself who said he authorised the Exocet info handed over after Thatcher informed him she would nuke Buenos Aries if he didn't!
Exactly what I heard - Like the French would offer us anything without previous threat or benefit! :)
 
#14
Would "full support" be like sending a French carrier group to support their neighbour, or warning the Argentinians not to use their French supplied weapons against an ally who had supported them at great cost in their hours of greatest need.
Oh FFS, much as I like a bit of Frog bashing let's stick to the facts, leaving aside the Exocet stuff, to give an example of the close co-operation from our beret wearing chums the French Air Force flew Mirages against our Sea Harriers on work-up in Dissimilar Air Combat Training, how else do you think our lot and the fish-heads knew how to fly rings round Argie Mirage IIIs and Daggers? There was also a huge exchange of information about kit and SOP - but on the other hand you can carry on pretending that they and the Yanks stood by while we stood alone if it makes you feel any happier
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#15
One must ask the question, would they have had the time to investigate, solve the problem and then install the solution on board ships that were already in combat in the time available. Was this really a non starter frrm the begining.
Almost certainly. Marconi were world leaders in both electronic warfare and missile seeker design. That latter bit was probably the crux of the problem - letting your chief competitor analyse your product in detail. The French govt were probably also mindful that any data would have ended up in American databases and used by US companies
 
#16
"The French offered full support"

What - like the full support we gave in 1914 and 1939, when they had a bit of trouble with the neighbours?

Would "full support" be like sending a French carrier group to support their neighbour, or warning the Argentinians not to use their French supplied weapons against an ally who had supported them at great cost in their hours of greatest need.

Perhaps the full support was nothing more than a gallic sniff and shrug of the shoulders. Did they even cut off diplomatic contacts with an Argentine government headed up by a despotic and desperate General. Close their embassy, re-call their ambassador for consultation? Did they even send a stiff letter of complaint?

So hardly full support at all then!
You can Herrumph all you like pal, the French were staunch allies in the conflict.

President of France François Mitterrand gave full support to the UK in the Falklands war. Sir John Nott, who was Secretary of State for Defence during the conflict, has acknowledged in his memoirs that "in so many ways Mitterrand and the French were our greatest allies".[25] A large part of Argentina's military equipment was French-made, so French support was crucial. Sir John has revealed that France provided Mirage and Etendard aircraft, identical to the ones that it supplied to Argentina, for British pilots to train against. It is also disclosed in Sir John's memoirs that France provided intelligence to help fight the Exocet missiles that it had sold to Argentina, including details of special electronic countermeasures that at the time were only known to the French armed forces. In her memoirs, Margaret Thatcher says of Mitterrand that "I never forgot the debt we owed him for his personal support...throughout the Falklands Crisis". As France had recently sold Super Etendard aircraft and Exocet missiles to the Argentine Navy, there was still a French team in Argentina helping to fit out the Exocets and aircraft for Argentine use at the beginning of the war. Argentina claims that the team left for France soon after the April 2 invasion, but according to Dr. James Corum, the French team apparently continued to assist the Argentines throughout the war in spite of the NATO embargo and official French government policy.

Events leading to the Falklands War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And for once, Wikipedia is accurate.
 
#17
When did this support manifast itself though?

At the offset, when teh Belgrano went down, San Carlos Bay or when the boys were undertaking the Port Stanley Cup race?
 
#19
I dont know what the french did. But didnt Ronald Reagan offer Maggie a Aircraft carrier? But she turned him down at the time because of questions over crewing arrangements, but she left the option open incase it was needed.
 
#20
I dont know what the french did. But didnt Ronald Reagan offer Maggie a Aircraft carrier? But she turned him down at the time because of questions over crewing arrangements, but she left the option open incase it was needed.
I believe he did offer an aircraft carrier, but due to yank sensitivities about the whole issue we would have to crew it. Seeing as we didn't have time or 6000 spare jack tars it was a bit of a non starter. I now stand by to be corrected by those more knowledgeable
 

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