France has just carried out a test firing of its future M51.3 strategic nuclear ballistic missile. The Ministry of the Armed Forces affirms that this test strengthens the country’s dissuasive posture.
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Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, the nuclear threat has been regularly brandished by the Kremlin, whether it involves the withdrawal of treaties, the testing of new nuclear weapons, such as Satan 2, or even barely veiled threats in the speeches of Vladimir Putin, or in those of his close guard. For its part, the West does not respond head-on to these demonstrations intended to scare populations, but flexes its muscles in its own way.
Thus, announcements around nuclear weapons are multiplying at the moment. The United States will, for example, develop a new nuclear bomb gravitygravity 360 kilotons; and France has just achieved a qualifying shot of a missilemissile strategic ballistics M51M51.3.
Carried out on November 18, this shot was carried out by the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA), in Biscarosse from the Landes site of DGA Missile Testing. Devoid of a nuclear charge, the missile fell several hundred kilometers from any coast in the North Atlantic. This is the twelfth test firing of an M51. It is a way of showing that France counts for a lot in mattermatter of nuclear deterrence in Europe.
Impressively, the firing of the M51.3 from the Landes was noticed by many people who were able to see a strange luminous halo in the sky. © DGA
Up to ten nuclear warheads
The M51.3 is a major evolution of the M51 missile used since 2010. It is the “ultimate” nuclear weapon in response to fire and after the use of pre-strategic ASMPA cruise missiles dropped by Rafale. The M51 is carried by nuclear submarines launcherslaunchers of craft (SNLE) such as Le Triomphant, Le Vigilant, Le Terrible and Le Téméraire. Currently, each has a carrying capacity of 16 M51.1 or M51.2 missiles. With an estimated range of 9,000 kilometers with vitessevitesse of Mach 15, each of these missiles is capable of carrying several nuclear warheads intended to strike different targets.
The M51s would carry six nuclear warheads ranging in power from 100 to 300 kilotons. For this version 3, and given current tensions, it could well be that this number of warheads increases to ten per missile. Military secrecy requires, difficult to know if this is really the case, but it would mean a strengthening of France’s dissuasive posture with, in passing, an increase in the nuclear arsenal in fact. A first since the early 1990s and a message that does not bode well for the future.
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