France’s DGA qualifies M51.3 nuclear-capable ballistic missile


The French General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) successfully launched the latest iteration of the M51 strategic ballistic missile.

The test took place on November 18, 2023, at the DGA Missile Testing site in Biscarosse, southwestern France.

The M51.3 missile, launched without a nuclear charge, reached its intended fallout zone in the North Atlantic, located several hundred kilometers from any coast. The success of this launch marked the successful qualification of the M51.3.

“This development perpetuates the credibility of our nuclear deterrence and demonstrates the excellence of our launcher sector,” said Sébastien Lecornu, the French Minister of the Armed Forces.

The M51 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) designed for deployment on the French Navy’s strategic nuclear submarines, such as the Triomphant-class submarines. The M51 missile is part of France’s nuclear deterrence strategy and is designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Compared to its predecessors, the M51.3, the development of which began in 2014, features an improved third stage designed to extend its range by several hundred kilometers. This enhancement enables the missile to counter future anti-missile defense capabilities effectively. The M51.3 is slated for delivery to FOST (Force Océanique Stratégique) starting in 2025, with discussions already underway about the development of an M51.4.

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