Fake News: NO Total Failure in Launching French Maval Missiles to Strike Syria

Hoax Alert

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: NO Total Failure in Launching French Maval Missiles to Strike Syria

Was there a total failure when the French navy tried to launch cruise missiles to strike targets in Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons there? A Syrian news website by the name of Muraselon claims there was but the headline is highly misleading and the article itself seems to suffer from a bad understanding of French news articles.

The story was published on April 18, 2018 under the headline "French naval scandal: Total failure in launching French naval missiles to strike Syria - Muraselon" (archived here) which opened:

French newspaper revealed a scandal that the French navy failed to launch missiles in the night of the "Tripartite Aggression" on Syria.

According to l'Opinion newspaper, a French military source has confirmed that the French navy faced a major failure in launching of many "Scalp naval" missiles from the group of missiles "16" in the frigate "Freem", which was on its way to hit targets in Syria.

The source added that a number of rockets supposed to be fired at Syria. "often, there was an intention to fire 16 rockets," the source said, adding that only three were fired from the entire French fleet.

The source said that the French Navy and the maritime industry groups had not provided any explanations so far about the incident.

Users who only saw the summary of the story on social media could have gotten the impression the French navy did not launch any missiles at all:

French naval scandal: Total failure in launching French naval missiles to strike Syria - Muraselon

French newspaper revealed a scandal that the French navy failed to launch missiles in the night of the "Tripartite Aggression" on Syria. French naval scandal: Total failure to launch French naval missiles to strike Syria

The original source article the story is based on just states there were technical glitches with the launch of some missiles:

La Marine a rencontré des " aléas technique " lors du tir des missiles de croisière (actualisé)

A la suite de l'article de La Lettre A sur les problèmes rencontrés par la Marine nationale lors des frappes contre la Syrie, une source navale reconnaît que " certains missiles ne sont pas partis " à la suite d'" aléas techniques ".

The Syrian article also incorrectly identifies the French ship as the frigate "Freem" while in reality there were three frigates present of the type "FREMM" (which stands for "Frégate Multimissions", or multi-mission frigate). The article goes on to talk about "Scalp Naval" missiles misfiring while this is the name of the air launched variety of the actual "Missiles de Croisière Naval (MdCN)" ship launched cruise missiles that were actually being talked about in French sources.

There appears to be actual video of the launch of the missiles according to website Navy Recognition:

Video: First Operational Use of MdCN Naval Cruise Missile by French Navy FREMM Frigates

The French Navy (Marine Nationale) conducted the first ever operational strike involving the new MdCN (Missile de Croisiere Naval) naval cruise missile last night. The cruise missiles were launch against a chemical weapons production site of the Syrian regime in coordination with the United States and the United Kingdom.

There were media reports that an inital salvo of missiles failed to launch but that a second salvo was fired by a backup ship that was present for such contingencies:

France turns to plan B when missile launch fails during Syria airstrikes

PARIS - When a French multimission frigate failed to fire its salvo of three naval cruise missiles during last weekend's joint airstrike on Syria, the military drew on a backup plan. The frigates sister ship, the Languedoc, instead launched its naval cruise missiles at the three Syrian targets.

Having an issue and then resorting to a backup plan that worked out as expected does not count as a total failure in our book, it rather speaks of effective planning and organisation.

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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