The Super Étendard was developed for the French Navy by Dassault-Breguet out of the Étendard IVM. The type was first flown in October of 1974 and introduced to French arsenals in 1978. The Super Étendard was developed following political and cost problems with the planned SEPECAT Jaguar M, a naval variant of the Jaguar. Several replacement possibilities were considered, including the LTV A-7 Corsair II and the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Dassault proposed to create a more powerful variant of the Étendard, with revised wing, new engine and improved avionics. The French Navy accepted the proposal, and deliveries began in 1978. Starting in the 1990's, an upgrade program was initiated to modernize the Super Étendard, called Super Étendard Modernisé, or SEM. The SEM variants of the Super Étendard first saw combat starting in 1999 with Operation Allied Force.
The Super Étendard is a Maratime strike platform available to French and NATO decks. It is an 80-point ground attack aircraft which carries Medium ECM and a single AS30L air-to-surface missile. As such, the type is highly specialized for spot removal of heavily armored or high value ground targets. The AS30L is extraordinarily accurate and powerful, able to defeat even the strongest PACT tank front armor. The type is best used to destroy high-value, low-number targets.
The Super Étendard is a relatively inexpensive French Naval Anti-Ship aircraft available to BLUFOR decks. It carries a pair of DEFA 550 cannons and a single AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile. Although the Exocet is highly accurate and features good range, its AP power is relatively low. The key drawback of the Super Étendard is not the Exocet's power, but rather that it only carries a single Exocet missile. Because the Super Étendard only carries one Exocet at a time, it is ineffective for attacking command ships with CIWS, and is thus relegated to attacking smaller, more basic REDFOR ships. In order to be effective against the larger ships, multiple Super Étendards must be sortied to overwhelm the target's CIWS.