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French Navy Submarine Le Terrible Fires M-51 Nuclear Missile in Latest Test

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French Navy Submarine Le Terrible Fires M-51 Nuclear Missile in Latest Test

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French Navy Submarine Le Terrible Fires M-51 Nuclear Missile in Latest Test
French Navy Submarine Le Terrible Fires M-51 Nuclear Missile in Latest Test

Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, expressed his great satisfaction after the successful launch on April 19, 2023, of an M51 strategic ballistic missile by the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SNLE) Le Terrible, from Audierne Bay, Finistere. The M51 missile equips the four nuclear ballistic missile submarines in French service. He sends his heartfelt congratulations to all the women and men of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA), and the companies that have worked towards its success.

The missile was monitored throughout its flight phase by means of DGA missile testing and those of the Monge test and measurement ship. The target zone is located in the North Atlantic, several hundred kilometers from any coast. This test was carried out without a nuclear warhead and in strict compliance with France’s international commitments. This launch validates the operational capability of the Le Terrible ballistic missile submarine and once again demonstrates the excellence of the high technology that French industries are implementing in this field.

The M51 SLBM is a French submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by ArianeGroup, and deployed with the French Navy. Designed to replace the M45 SLBM (In French terminology the MSBS – Mer-Sol-Balistique-Stratégique “Sea-ground-Strategic ballistic”), it was first deployed in 2010. Each missile carries six to ten independently targetable TN 75 thermonuclear warheads. The three-stage engine of the M51 is directly derived from the solid propellant boosters of Ariane 5. Like other blunt-nosed SLBM examples, such as the Trident D5, the M51 uses an extensible aerospike in the nose.

Le Terrible is a Triomphant-class strategic nuclear submarine of the French Navy. The boat was launched on 21 March 2008. The submarine was put into service on 20 September 2010 armed with the 16 M51 missiles. Terrible is fitted with a new SYCOBS combat system (SYstem de COmbat Barracuda-SSBN) which will also be installed on the new Barracuda class SSNs. The Triomphant-class superseded the older Redoutable class, and they provide the ocean-based component (the Force océanique stratégique) of France’s nuclear deterrent strike force, the Force de dissuasion (deterrence force). Their home port is Île Longue, Roadstead of Brest, Western Brittany.

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