France has conducted a successful test launch of its M51.3 long-range ballistic missile, signaling a significant advancement in the nation’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.
The test was announced by the French defense ministry over the weekend and involved firing a missile, devoid of any nuclear payload from the French army’s Biscarosse missile testing site in southwest France. The missile reached a target location in the North Atlantic, far from any coastlines, said France’s Ministry of Defense, which did not share specific coordinates.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Ministry said:”The flight has allowed us to confirm a major improvement of the missile which will contribute to the lasting credibility of France’s oceanic deterrence in coming decades,”
Emphasizing the necessity to uphold the operational credibility of France’s nuclear arsenal, the ministry underscored the importance of navigating the current international climate.
Since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February 2022, President Vladimir Putin has issued repeated warnings to the Western world, asserting readiness to use nuclear weaponry in defense of Russia’s interests.
The M51.3 missile is an upgraded version of the M51, a three-stage sea-land strategic ballistic missile originally designed to be launched from French Navy submarines. The M51 was first test fired from ground bases in 2006 and from submarines in 2010 upon commissioning.
Expected to be in operational service by approximately 2025, the new M51.3 missile has been developed by rocket company the ArianeGroup, a joint venture between Airbus and the French defense group Safran.