France has launched a programme to build the French Navy’s third-generation, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN).

Called the SNLE 3G, this programme’s launch was announced by French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly at the French Defence Procurement Agency’s (DGA) Centre of expertise for Hydrodynamic techniques.

French defence contractor Naval Group said that it is being carried out on behalf of the French Government, with support of the DGA and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), together with the Armed Forces Staff and the French Navy.

Under the project, four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines will be built. They will serve the Navy between the 2030s and the 2090s.

The first of submarine class is set to come online by 2035. Three other submarines will then be delivered every five years after the first delivery.

The new submarines are being designed to replace the second-generation SSBN.

The French Navy’s second-generation SSBN will be phased out from being operational between the 2030s and 2040s.

Naval Group CEO Pierre-Eric Pommellet said: “Naval Group is very proud to put its skills, talents and industrial resources at the service of France’s nuclear deterrence. The whole company will be mobilised with its partners to carry out this exceptional project.

“We are aware of our responsibility and we will do our utmost, as previous generations have done, to provide France with the tool of its sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, in a separate development, DGA signed an MoU with Thales for the development of a complete sonar suite for the programme.

In February 2018, DGA awarded a new contract to Thales to conduct a series of studies and technological developments for advanced sonar systems.