France has reportedly successfully tested a ballistic long-range missile, enhancing its capabilities for nuclear deterrence. The M51.3, without warheads, was launched from the military test site in Biscarrosse, southwest France, and landed in the North Atlantic, according to the Ministry of Defense. The test confirmed a significant improvement in the missile.
The French Ministry stated that the projectile impacted hundreds of kilometers away from any coastal areas. The Ministry further emphasized the necessity of maintaining France’s nuclear deterrence capability in light of international developments. Following the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned the West that he is prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of Russia.
The M51.3 is an advancement of the 53-ton ballistic missile M51, launched from submarines, capable of carrying up to six nuclear warheads to various targets more than 8000 kilometers away. The first test of the M51 took place in 2006, initially from a land-based facility, with the second test conducted in 2010 from a submarine. However, not all the tests were successful. In 2013, the launch of an M51 from a submarine in a bay off Brittany ended in a spectacular failure as the missile self-destructed shortly after launch.
The new M51.3 is expected to be operational in 2025. It is developed by the ArianeGroup, a joint venture of Airbus and the French defense company Safran.
Featured Image: The image shows the test firing of an M51.3 strategic ballistic missile. Photo: DGA, the French Government defence procurement and technology agency