Wednesday, April 24, 2024

France test-launches M51.3 unarmed nuclear missile

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu expressed immense satisfaction following the successful qualification test on November 18, 2023, of the new M51.3 unarmed nuclear ballistic missile.

The test, conducted by the General Directorate of Armament from the Landes site of DGA Missile Testing, marks a significant evolution in the missile’s capabilities, ensuring the sustained credibility of France’s oceanic deterrence for decades to come.

Lecornu conveyed his heartfelt congratulations to the men and women of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), and the industrial partners whose efforts culminated in this achievement.


Throughout its flight phase, the missile was meticulously tracked by DGA’s testing facilities. Its designated impact zone lies in the North Atlantic, several hundred kilometers away from any coastline. This nuclear-free test rigorously adheres to France’s international commitments.

The M51, an intercontinental multiple-warhead missile, surpasses the capabilities of its predecessor, the M45, ensuring the enduring credibility of France’s oceanic deterrence in an evolving strategic context. Eventually, it will equip all 4 SNLE submarines of the Le Triomphant class.

Weighing approximately 54 tonnes, its enhanced penetration capabilities against adversarial defenses and heightened nuclear safety add to its significance. Moreover, its precision benefits from stellar realignment capabilities.

The program’s strategy revolves around incrementally evolving the missile, ensuring it meets evolving needs while maintaining industrial proficiency. Presently, the M51 manifests in two versions, M51.1 and M51.2, with efforts ongoing for the third version, M51.3, initiated back in 2014.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.



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