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Fourth successful test launch of M-51 SLBM


The nuclear submarine Le Terrible which will be the first of four next-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) to be armed with M-51 SLBM. French Navy Photo.

PARIS (BNS): The fourth successful trial launch of an M-51 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was carried out recently by the France’s Directorate General of Armaments (DGA).

According to news release by the French Ministry of Defence, the launch took place from the nuclear submarine Le Terrible in the Bay of Audierne, in Western Brittany.

Hervé Morin, Defence Minister of France, congratulated the team involved in the test launch.

The missile during its flight phase was constantly tracked by the DGA missile test range at Biscarrosse (Landes) and Quimper (Finistère), and the Monge trials ship, as reported in the report.

Le Terrible will enter the service in 2010. It will be the first of four next-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) to be armed with M-51 SLBM.

The M-51 missile offers substantially greater range and accuracy than the current M-45, as well as improved survivability and operational flexibility.

The M-51 weighs 54 metric tonnes and is 12 meters long with a diameter of 2.3 meters. It is equipped with electric nozzle actuators, a celestial navigation system in addition to inertial navigation, a deployable wind shield to ease aerodynamic penetration after launch, and its nose cone and propulsion stages are made of composite carbon-based materials. Range is reportedly closer to 10,000 km than to 8,000 km.

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