|LE BOURGET, France, June 21, 2007 (AFP) - France on Thursday successfully test-fired an inter-continental missile that will be outfitted to its new class of nuclear submarines in 2010, Defence Minister Herve Morin said.
The M51 intercontinental missile was fired from the Biscarosse launch site in the Landes region of southwest France and splashed down in the North Atlantic "far from the American coast," said a defence ministry official.
"This morning, we carried out the second test of the M51 missile and it was a perfect success," said Morin during a visit to the air and space show at Le Bourget, outside Paris.
A first test of the M51, which can carry six nuclear warheads and has a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles), was carried out in November 2006.
The missile will replace the M45 sea-to-ground ballistic missile and be used by a new class of strategic nuclear submarines that form the backbone of France's policy of nuclear deterrence.
"This is a technological exploit that is absolutely indispensable for the new generation of nuclear missiles that we will load onto our missile launching nuclear submarines," said Morin.