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France's SSBN Le Terrible successfully fires M51 ballistic missile.


| 2023

According to a tweet published by the French MoD on April 19, 2023, the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Le Terrible successfully fired an M51 ballistic missile in Brittany.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 M51 missile launching from a submarine. (Picture source: French MoD)


The M51 missile has a mass of 52,000 kg, is 12.0 meters long, and has a diameter of 2.3 meters. It is equipped with a warhead, which can be M51.1 carrying 6 to 10 TN 75 MIRV with a yield of 110 kilotons (kt) (420 TJ) and penetration aids, or M51.2 (2015) with the new Tête nucléaire océanique with a yield of 100 kt / CEP 150–200 m, or TNO BC with a yield of 300 kt / CEP 150–200 m.

The missile's engine is a three-stage solid-fuel rocket using ammonium perchlorate composite propellant. Its estimated operational range is 8,000–10,000 km, although the actual range is classified information.

The M51 missile is capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 25 and is guided by an astro-inertial guidance system, with plans to incorporate the Galileo system.

About Le Terrible

Le Terrible is a Triomphant-class submarine of the French Navy. She has a displacement of 12,640 tonnes when surfaced and 14,335 tonnes when submerged, and is 138 meters long with a beam of 12.50 meters and a draught of 10.60 meters.

Her propulsion system is similar to that of Le Triomphant, consisting of a pressurized water K15 nuclear reactor with a power output of 150 MW (200,000 hp) and a turboreductor system, as well as 2 SEMT Pielstick diesels-alternators 8PA4V200 SM (700 kW (940 hp)) auxiliaries.

The submarine is capable of speeds over 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) and has an unlimited range with a lifespan of 20-25 years. Her complement includes 15 officers and 96 men.

The submarine is equipped with the same sensors and processing systems as Le Triomphant, such as Sonar DMUX 80, Sonar DUUX 5, Sonar DSUV 61B Very Low Frequency, and Racal Decca radar for navigation.

She also has the ARUR 13 electronic warfare and decoy system and the same armament, which includes nuclear missiles (16 M45 or M51 missiles with six to ten TN 75 150kt thermonuclear warheads), anti-submarine weapons (4 × 533 mm tubes for F17 torpedoes), and anti-surface weapons (Exocet SM39).


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