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M51 SLBM
M-51 missile.svg
Type SLBM
Service history
In service 27 september 2010
Production history
Manufacturer EADS Astrium Space Transportation
Unit cost 4 billion Euro for the programme
Specifications
Weight 52,000 kg
Length 12.0 m
Diameter 2.3 m

Warhead M51.1 = 6 to 10 TN 75 MIRV (100 kiloton (kt) (420 TJ), with penetration aids.
M51.2 (2015) = using the new Tête Nucléaire Océanique150 kt

Engine three stage solid propellant (APCP)
Operational
range
>10,000 km [2][3]
Speed Mach 25[1]
Guidance
system
Inertial & star positioning
Launch
platform
Triomphant class submarines

The M51 SLBM is a submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by EADS Astrium Space Transportation, and deployed with the French Navy. Designed to replace the M45 SLBM (In French terminology the MSBS - Mer-Sol-Balistique-Stratégique “Sea-ground-Strategic ballistic”), it was first deployed in 2010.

Each missile carries six to ten independently targetable TN 75 thermonuclear warheads.

The three-stage engine of the M51 is directly derived from the solid propellant boosters of Ariane 5.

The missiles are a compromise over the M5 SLBM design, which is to have a range of 11,000 km (6,800 mi) and carry 10 TNO MIRV of the new generation (Tête Nucléaire Océanique, “Oceanic nuclear warhead”). The M51 entered service in 2010.[4]

Flight tests[edit | edit source]

The M51 performed its first flight test (unarmed) on 9 November 2006 from the French missile flight test centre in Biscarrosse (Landes). The target was reached twenty minutes later, in the north-west of the Atlantic Ocean.[5]

A second and third successful test were carried out on 21 June 2007[6] and 13 November 2008.[7]

On 27 January 2010, at 9h25, a missile was launched underwater by the Le Terrible, from Audierne Bay.[8] The missile reached its target 2,000 kilometres off South Carolina; the 4,500 kilometre flight took less than 20 minutes.[9][10]

The 10 July 2010 test validated the Triomphant class submarine's capacity to launch the M51 in operational conditions.[11]

On 5 May 2013 an M51 flight test missile, failed after being fired by a submerged SSBN off the coast of Brittany. This was the first failed launch of the M51 after 5 successful launches since 2006.[citation needed]

Operators[edit | edit source]

 France
French Navy is the only operator of the missile.

Sources and references[edit | edit source]

Comparison of different nuclear systems: left, the SNLE (Redoutable type) with the M4 missile; right, the SNLE-NG (Triomphant type) with the previous M45 missile and the actual M51 missile.

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