On Friday, the French missile submarine Le Téméraire fired an M51 SLBM off the western coast of France toward the Caribbean Sea, the French Defense Ministry announced, APA reports.
Le Téméraire is the second-oldest of France’s four Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines, launched in 1998. Each of the subs can carry 16 SLBMs. In turn, the M51 carries a payload of between six and 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) nuclear warheads, meaning each Triomphant boat could potentially deliver 160 separate nuclear strikes.
However, according to the Arms Control Association, a US-based non-governmental group, Paris has just 300 nuclear warheads available for use. The defense ministry noted no warhead was aboard Friday’s test missile.
A few days before the test, Le Téméraire was spotted leaving port with huge testing antennae attached to its sail, with observers noting they were of the kind used for missile tests.
Defense Minister Florence Parly hailed the test in a Friday statement on Twitter, saying its success “demonstrates our technological excellence and our attachment to French sovereignty. I congratulate all those whose commitment has made this test a success. Their involvement is essential to French nuclear deterrence and to our sovereignty.”