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France Conducts Successful Test of Strategic Ballistic Missile

The French Defense Ministry issued a statement today that “This evening, a test firing of an M51 missile without a nuclear charge was successfully carried out from the Biscarrosse missile testing center of theDGA (General Directorate of Armaments). Objective [was] Protect the vital interests of France in all circumstances.” Attached was the statement from Defense Minister Sebastien Cornu, “This development perpetuates the credibility of our nuclear deterrence and demonstrates the excellence of our launcher sector,” thanking “all the actors of this successful shot.”

A DGA statement reported “The missile was monitored throughout its flight phase by the test resources of the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA). The fallout zone is located in the North Atlantic, several hundred kilometers from any coast. This test was carried out without a nuclear charge and in strict compliance with France’s international commitments. This shot, carried out as part of the M51 program, once again demonstrates the excellence of the high technology that French industries are implementing in this area.

“This weapons program responds to the will of the President of the Republic who is committed to making the decisions necessary to maintain the operational credibility of nuclear forces over time, at the level of strict sufficiency required by the international environment.”

Reuters described the M51.3 missile as an upgraded version of the M51, a three-stage sea-land strategic ballistic missile designed to be launched from French Navy submarines, and saying the “M51 was first test-fired from a ground base in 2006 and from a submarine in 2010, the year it was commissioned.”