France has conducted a test launch of an unarmed M51 intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine, sending it toward North America, the country’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.
The M51 missile is said to have been launched earlier in the day from a testing site in southwestern France.
“The missile’s head has landed in the North Atlantic [Ocean], several hundred kilometers away from any shores. This test was conducted without a nuclear payload and in strict accordance with France’s international commitments,” the ministry said in a statement.
Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly expressed deep satisfaction over the successful launch.
The intercontinental ballistic missile M51 has been in service with the French armed forces since 2010. It is deployed on the country’s next-generation nuclear submarines. It replaced the previous M45 and boasts better precision than its predecessor.
So, France did a #SLBM-test early today, launching an M51 SLBM from an area south of Brest near the French coast, towards the Caribean.
Based on navigational warnings, I created this map. Line is a simple ballistic trajectory. Range aimed for ~6000 km.https://t.co/Fe6Y4sLLoM pic.twitter.com/A0QIphkPGL
— Dr Marco Langbroek ? #Vaccinate (@Marco_Langbroek) June 12, 2020
The M51 missile is a vital element of the French Strategic Ocean Force. It is a three-stage ballistic missile carried aboard the four French Le Triomphant class submarines. Each missile can carry six to ten independently targetable TN 75 thermonuclear warheads.