Strategic Weapons: Late But Successful


January 31, 2010: On January 27, France conducted its first test of its new M-51 SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles) from a submerged submarine. The first flight test, from land, was in late 2006. Two more such tests were carried out in 2007 and 2008. France is buying 70 M-51 SLBM, at a cost of about $60 million each. The entire program, including development, cost $5.6 billion. The 52 ton missile carries six 100 kiloton nuclear warheads and has a range of 11,000 kilometers. The M-51 is of a new design, the third generation of French SLBMs. France has four SSBNs carrying 16 SLBMs each. Production on the M-51 will replace the current M-45 and M-4 SLBMs by the end of the decade, but this was delayed by development problems.





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