French submarine test-fires M51 missile for first time

21:23, January 27, 2010      

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The French Navy successfully carried out its first test-firing of an M51 ballistic missile launched from a submarine, a defense ministry statement said on Wednesday.

The test, conducted earlier in the day, came after three flight tests from land-based launch facilities done between 2006 and 2008.

The test was carried out around 9:25 a.m. (0825 GMT) from the submarine, Le Terrible, at the Audierne Bay in northwestern France.

"(Defense) Minister Herve Morin expressed his great satisfaction with the success, which is so far the fourth experimental flight of the M51 strategic missile without a nuclear warhead," the statement added.

The missile, which reportedly weighs 54 tons and has a range of up to10,000 km, carries six to 10 independently-targetable thermonuclear warheads.

Six more flight tests have been planned for the missile before it enters service this year.

The submarine-launched missile will be part of France's nuclear deterrent program.

When in service, each submarine will carry up to 16 M51 missiles.

Source: Xinhua
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