Military Wiki
M-51 missile.svg
Service history
In service 27 september 2010
Production history
Manufacturer EADS Astrium Space Transportation
Unit cost 4 billion Euro for the programme
Weight 52,000 kg
Length 12.0 m
Diameter 2.3 m

Warhead M51.1 = 6 to 10 TN 75 MIRV (100 kiloton (kt) (420 TJ), with penetration aids.
M51.2 (2015) = using the new Tête Nucléaire Océanique150 kt

Engine three stage solid propellant (APCP)
>10,000 km [2][3]
Speed Mach 25[1]
Inertial & star positioning
Triomphant class submarines

The M51 SLBM is a submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by EADS Astrium Space Transportation, and deployed with the French Navy. Designed to replace the M45 SLBM (In French terminology the MSBS - Mer-Sol-Balistique-Stratégique “Sea-ground-Strategic ballistic”), it was first deployed in 2010.

Each missile carries six to ten independently targetable TN 75 thermonuclear warheads.

The three-stage engine of the M51 is directly derived from the solid propellant boosters of Ariane 5.

The missiles are a compromise over the M5 SLBM design, which is to have a range of 11,000 km (6,800 mi) and carry 10 TNO MIRV of the new generation (Tête Nucléaire Océanique, “Oceanic nuclear warhead”). The M51 entered service in 2010.[4]

Flight tests

The M51 performed its first flight test (unarmed) on 9 November 2006 from the French missile flight test centre in Biscarrosse (Landes). The target was reached twenty minutes later, in the north-west of the Atlantic Ocean.[5]

A second and third successful test were carried out on 21 June 2007[6] and 13 November 2008.[7]

On 27 January 2010, at 9h25, a missile was launched underwater by the Le Terrible, from Audierne Bay.[8] The missile reached its target 2,000 kilometres off South Carolina; the 4,500 kilometre flight took less than 20 minutes.[9][10]

The 10 July 2010 test validated the Triomphant class submarine's capacity to launch the M51 in operational conditions.[11]

On 5 May 2013 an M51 flight test missile, failed after being fired by a submerged SSBN off the coast of Brittany. This was the first failed launch of the M51 after 5 successful launches since 2006.[citation needed]


French Navy is the only operator of the missile.

Sources and references

  4. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"M51: a new generation of missile". Astrium. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  5. (French) Le Monde — Test réussi pour le M51, futur missile nucléaire à longue portée français
  6. (French) Second successful launch of the M51 missile, press release of the French ministry of Defence
  7. (French) Third M51 missile experimental launch, French ministry of Defence
  8. Un missile M-51 a été tiré depuis un sous-marin en plongée ce matin, Jean-Dominique Merchet, Libération
  9. Le missile M-51 est retombé à 2000 kilomètres des côtes américaines, Jean-Dominique Merchet, Libération
  10. Tir d’essai du missile M51, Ministry of Defence
  11. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"Le Terrible Qualifies for Operational Launch of M51 Missile". Defence.Professionals. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.

Comparison of different nuclear systems: left, the SNLE (Redoutable type) with the M4 missile; right, the SNLE-NG (Triomphant type) with the previous M45 missile and the actual M51 missile.

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