French Navy’s ballistic submarine test fires M51 missile

12 June 2020 (Last Updated June 12th, 2020 14:07)

The French Navy’s Triomphant class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Le Téméraire has conducted a test-fire of an M51 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in operational conditions.

The French Navy’s Triomphant class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Le Téméraire has conducted a test-fire of an M51 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in operational conditions.

During the firing, which took place in the Atlantic off Finistère, France, radars and the missile range instrumentation ship Monge (A601) were used to track the M51 SLBM throughout its flight phase.

The fallout zone was located in the North Atlantic.

Testing of the missile was conducted without nuclear warhead and in strict compliance with the country’s international commitments.

Furthermore, it validates the operational capacity of the SSBN Le Téméraire’s global weapon system.

In July 2016, the Le Triomphant nuclear-powered SSBN successfully test fired an M51 SLBM from the Bay of Audierne, Finistère. The firing was aimed at validating the operational capacity of the submarine’s weapon system.

The M51 started replacing the M45 in 2010.

According to open source data, an M51 has a three-stage engine. It weighs 52,000kg and has a length of 12m and a diameter of 2.3m.

The operational range of the missile is reported to be 8,000km to 10,000km, with a speed of Mach 25.

Each missile is capable of carrying six to ten independently targetable TN 75 thermonuclear warheads, which are being replaced with the new Tête nucléaire océanique (TNO) warheads since 2015.

The new warheads are reported to be maneuverable to avoid potential ballistic defenses.

In April this year, the French Navy and the USS Dwight D Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) together conducted a bilateral, interoperability exercise in the North Arabian Sea.