The hearings of DGA Emmanuel Chiva, General Stéphane Mille (CEMAAE) and General Jérôme Bellanger, Commander of the Strategic Air Forces, have enabled us to better understand the evolution of the means of France's nuclear deterrence.
25 Md€ devoted to nuclear deterrence
25 Md€ have been devoted to deterrence over the 2019-2023 period, recalled Emmanuel Chiva, Delegate General for Armaments (DGA), including 5.3 Md€ of payment credits in 2022 and 5.6 Md€ in 2023. This sum includes €4.65 billion for the maintenance and renewal of components, with €211 million for studies on navigation, stealth technologies for SSBNs and missile penetration capabilities. Capability improvements concern, in order, the new renovated ASMP-A missiles, which are expected to enter service at the end of 2023, and the M-51.3 missiles, which are expected to enter service in 2025. Then will come the " first commissioning " of third-generation nuclear submarines " in the decade 2030-2040 " (cautiously the DGA does not cite dates or quantities).
ASN4G: hypervelocity missile for the Dassault Rafale F5 standard
The successor to the refurbished ASMP-A will be a hypervelocity missile, the ASN4G (nuclear air-to-ground 4th generation). The launch of realization must occur in 2025, for a commissioning in " the course of the decade 2030-2040 ". According to the CEMAAE, the date has already been set for 2035. The F5-standard Rafale will be the first to be equipped, and it is only "ten to fifteen years" after the weapon arrives on the NGF, i.e. between 2045 and 2050. It will have to remain " credible at least until 2060 ".
The replacement of the metropolitan transmission system has been launched
Transmissions are essential to deterrence, if only for the dissemination of fire orders. The renovation of the four Marine transmission centers was completed in 2020, and the replacement of the Ramses metropolitan transmission system, Anubis, was launched in 2022. This level of activity on nuclear programs is leading the DGA to increase its dedicated workforce by 150 positions between 2021 and 2025, and 30% more military engineers are following the Cherbourg atomic curriculum (focused on nuclear propulsion). Emmanuel Chiva also said that the preliminary design work on the new-generation nuclear aircraft carrier (which will contribute to deterrence) " will be launched by the DGA and CEA by the end of March "
Around fifty Rafales serving the Strategic Air Forces
On January 25, General Jérôme Bellanger recalled for his part that the Strategic Air Forces (FAS) includes 2,200 airmen, around fifty Rafales (and 50% of Rafale crews). He also said that the first force evaluation firing of a renovated ASMP-A will take place in October, which will also be the month the Rafale F4 enters operational service. The twelfth and final Airbus MRTT Phénix of the first tranche will also be delivered this year, with three Airbus A330-200s still to be transformed by Airbus into Phénixes, to reach the final format.
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