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Missile S3 monté en position verticale Musee du Bourget P1010455.JPG
S3 missile on display at Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1980-1996
Used by French military
Weight 25.8 tonnes
Length 13.8 metres
Diameter 1.5 metres

Warhead TN 61 warhead, 1.2 megatonnes

Engine Two-stage solid fuel Rocket
Propellant 23 tonnes solid fuel
3 500 km
Silo, Plateau d'Albion

The S3 was a French land-based Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, equipped with a single 1.2-megatonne thermonuclear warhead.


The S3 is a two-stage, solid-propellant Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. The first stage was inherited from the S2, with a P16 solid fuel engine and 4 exhausts.

The first stage carries 16 940 kg of fuel and burns for 72 seconds. The second stage carries 6 015 kg and burns for 58 seconds. The warhead, a single 1.2 Mt TN 61, is hardened and carries penetration aids.

Operational history

From 1971, the main component of the French deterrence was the S2 missile. In 1973, a programme was started to develop a second-generation "ground-ground ballistic strategic" missile, completed in 1980. Two groups of S2 missile silos were upgraded to the S3 standard. A first 9-missile group was deployed at Apt-Saint-Christol air base, on Plateau d'Albion, entering service in 1982. 40 missile were built, 13 being used on trials.

The S3 were originally planned to be replaced around 2005 by a land-based version of the M5, the submarine missile planned at the time. As the M5 project was itself delayed and eventually cancelled in favour of the M51, in 1994, the replacement was re-scheduled to by a land-based version of the M45. Eventually, in 1996, it was decided that the S3 would be phased out and not replaced.

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