Close up of the Malafon ASW Missile on Vauquelin
Malafon (MArine LAtécoère FONds) was a French ship-launched anti-submarine missile system. Developed in the 1950s and 60s, the weapon was intended to take advantage of the greater detection ranges possible with towed sonar arrays. The missile entered service in 1966 and was manufactured by Groupe Latécoère
The weapon is essentially a glider-delivered version of the L4 torpedo. The launcher is a circular mount which allows the weapon to be slewed to the correct bearing, whereupon it is fired at a fixed elevation of +15°. Two solid booster rockets accelerate it to 830 km/h within 4 seconds before falling away. The unpowered glider continues at an altitude of 100 meters, altering course in mid flight under radio control of the launch platform. Effective range was 13 km. As it reaches the target the glider drops the torpedo which splashes into the sea and commences a circular search pattern. The flight time of the Malafon meant that it was expected to hit the water up to 800 m from the submarine's location. The L4 torpedo had a speed of 30 kt over a range of 5 km.
The Malafon was a large weapon, with each missile weighing 1,330 kilos. As a result is was only employed on larger vessels. It was typically used for medium and long range submarine targets, though it could have been used against surface ships.
The system was declared obsolete in 1997