The French Navy successfully launched an M51 strategic ballistic missile from the nuclear-powered missile submarine (SNLE) Le Triomphant on 1st July. It was the first launch from a submarine since a failed test in 2013. It followed a successful land-based launch in September 2015.
The missile, was tracked throughout its flight by the facilities of the French defence procurement agecncy DGA, including the Monge missile range instrumentation ship. The target zone was in the North Atlantic several hundred kilometers from the nearest coast.
The test validates the operational capability of the Triomphant-class submarine as a component of the French nuclear deterrent. Today the M51 missile equips three of the French Navy’s four new-generation SNLE submarines. The entire fleet is due to be equipped with the M51 by the end of the decade.
The M51 entered service in 2010. The French Navy is currently transitioning to the longer-range M51.2 version of the missile. An upgraded M51.3 version is already under development by prime contractor Airbus Safran Launchers.