M51 (missile)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from M51 SLBM)
Jump to: navigation, search
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 107 kiloton (kt) (420 TJ), with penetration aids.
M51.2 (2015) = using the new Tête nucléaire océanique 150 kt / CEP 150-200 m

Engine three stage Solid-fuel rocket (Ammonium perchlorate composite propellant)
8,000-10,000 km [1][2]
Speed Mach 25[3]
Astro-inertial guidance. Galileo (satellite navigation) system is planned.
Triomphant class submarines

The M51 SLBM is a submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by Astrium, 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 was to have a range of 11,000 km (6,800 mi) and carry 10 new generation Tête nucléaire océanique' (“Oceanic nuclear warhead”) MIRVs.[4] The M51 entered service in 2010.[5]

Flight tests[edit]

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.[6]

A second and third successful test were carried out on 21 June 2007[7] and 13 November 2008.[8]

On 27 January 2010, at 9h25, a missile was launched underwater by Le Terrible, from Audierne Bay.[9] The missile reached its target 2,000 kilometres off South Carolina; the 4,500 kilometre flight took less than 20 minutes.[10][11]

The 10 July 2010 test validated the Triomphant class submarine's capacity to launch the M51 in operational conditions.[12]

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.[13]


French Navy is the only operator of the missile.

Sources and references[edit]

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 current M51 missile.