France bolstered its nuclear capabilities with the successful test-firing of an M51.3 long-range ballistic missile, this was announced the by defense ministry. The missile, devoid of a nuclear warhead, was launched from the French army's Biscarosse missile testing site in southwest France.
It landed in the North Atlantic, the ministry noted, specifying that the impact occurred "hundreds of kilometers from any coastline." The successful test underscores France's commitment to maintaining a credible nuclear deterrence strategy.
"The flight has allowed to confirm a major improvement of the missile which will contribute to the lasting credibility of France's oceanic deterrence in coming decades," the ministry said in a statement
The statement emphasized the necessity of upholding the operational credibility of France's nuclear weapons, especially in the current international environment. After Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, President Vladimir Putin has consistently issued warnings to the West, asserting his readiness to employ nuclear weapons in defense of Russia. The geopolitical landscape, marked by such developments, underscores the significance for France to maintain a robust nuclear deterrent capability.
The M51.3 missile represents an advanced iteration of the M51, a sea-land strategic ballistic missile featuring three stages. Specifically designed for launch from French Navy submarines, the M51 underwent its initial ground-based test in 2006 and was subsequently tested from a submarine in 2010, coinciding with its commissioning that year.
Aerospace firm ArianeGroup, a collaborative venture between Airbus (AIR.PA) and the French defense group Safran (SAF.PA), is the developer of the new M51.3 missile. Anticipated to be operational around 2025, this upgraded missile serves as a testament to ongoing advancements in France's ballistic missile capabilities, reinforcing its strategic posture in the realm of nuclear deterrence.
Ballistic missiles share similarities with rockets, tracing elliptic trajectories once launched. These trajectories frequently extend beyond the Earth's atmosphere, reaching lower space as part of their flight path. This stands in contrast to cruise missiles, which generally traverse straight trajectories at low altitudes.
Cruise missiles are propelled by continuous thrust throughout their journey until they reach their designated target. The distinction in trajectory patterns and propulsion methods underscores the fundamental differences between ballistic and cruise missiles in terms of their flight characteristics and operational mechanisms.
Image source: Reuters