After over a decade of development, and delays, France had a successful
underwater test of its new M51 SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile). In this
case, the missile was fired from an underwater container similar to the silo on
a submarine. M51s weigh 56 tons each, carry six warheads and have a range of
10,000 kilometers. They replace the M45 (weighing 35 tons each, carrying six
warheads and with a range of 6,000 kilometers). The M51 should be ready for
service in two years.
year, France launched the fourth (and last) of its new Triomphant class SSBNs
(ballistic missile nuclear submarines), the "Le Terrible". This boat will enter
service in two years. The Triomphant class boats displace 12,600 tons, have a
crew of 101 and carry 16 M51 missiles. The other three Triomphants, already in service, carry the older M45
missile. These boats will get the M51 after the "Le Terrible" enters service.
The Triomphants replace the six SSBNs of the Redoutable class, 9,000 ton boats
that entered service in 1971 and were retired in 1991. Each of these boats
carried sixteen of the shorter range (5,000 kilometers) M4 missiles.