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France deploys three Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines for maritime patrols.

| 2022

According to a tweet published by Defense News Nigeria on April 11, 2022, the French Navy has deployed three Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines for maritime patrols amid the Ukraine crisis.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarine Le Terrible (Picture source: French Navy)

The Triomphant class of ballistic missile submarines of the French Navy is the active lead boat class of four boats that entered service in 1997, 1999, 2004, and 2010. Their home port is Île Longue, Roadstead of Brest, Western Brittany.

Four Le Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are currently in service with the French Navy. These submarines are 138 meters long with a 12.5-meter-wide beam and can travel over 25 knots when submerged. They can remain submerged for about 60 days without surfacing.

The first three boats were originally armed with the French-produced and armed M45 intermediate-range missile, and the fourth vessel, Le Terrible, tested and is equipped with the more advanced M51 missile. Each of the first three boats was retrofitted to the M51 missile standard, with the last M45 offloaded in 2016.

The M51 is the new generation of French strategic submarine-launched ballistic missiles, designed to keep pace with changing threats and defenses. It entered service at the end of 2010. As for all the ballistic missile systems in France's nuclear deterrence force, Astrium is the prime contractor for their development, production, deployment, and maintenance services on behalf of the French defense procurement agency (DGA) for the French Navy.

The M51 is significantly different from the M45, its currently operational predecessor, in terms of shape, size, weight, and even its interface with the submarine launch tubes. It features multiple warheads, with far greater payload mass and volume (including warheads and penetration aids). It also offers a longer range than the M4, enabling submarines to expand their patrol zones.

Weighing a total of 50 tonnes (compared to 35 for the M4 missiles) each of its three stages is powered by a solid rocket motor equipped with a flex-bearing nozzle. The first and second stage structures are made of wound carbon-epoxy fiber.

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