Thursday, November 30, 2023

With 3 SSBNs at sea, the French deterrence posture at its highest since 1983

There are clear signs regarding the level of tension that exists between the West and Russia, against a backdrop of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Thus, barely a few days after the launch of what is presented by Moscow as a “Special Military Operation”, and which is obviously turning into a nightmare for the Russian armies, the Kremlin announced the increased alert of its forces. of deterrence. If at the time, the Western nuclear powers had not publicly noted the threat so as not to aggravate the situation, they nonetheless drew their own conclusions. Thus, we learned today that France has deployed to the sea 3 of its 4 nuclear missile submarines , the key ships of French deterrence, each carrying 16 M51 intercontinental missiles capable of carrying 6 to 10 warheads nuclear weapons of 100 Kt, a level of deterrence never reached since the Euromissile crisis in 1983, often considered one of the two high points of the Cold War with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

In peacetime, the French Navy permanently deploys a single SSBN at sea to guarantee the security of France. A second ship of the same type is kept on alert and must be able to put to sea within 24 hours in the event of a crisis. The third ship provides a 30-day alert, and its crew is in training. The last building, finally, is under scheduled maintenance. Alongside the SSBNs of the Strategic Ocean Force, or FOST, two squadrons of the Air and Space Force, the 1/4 Gascogne and the 2/4 Lafayette equipped with Rafale B specially adapted to the nuclear mission , provide the air component of deterrence, with the capacity to strike a target several thousand kilometers away with their ASMPA supersonic missiles. Finally, the French naval aviation also has the capacity to deploy this same missile from certain Rafale Ms embarked on board the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Today, obviously, all of these French deterrent capabilities are on alert, even if we do not know whether or not ASMPA missiles were on board the Charles de Gaulle today on a mission in Mediterranean.

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Each French SSBN of the Triomphant class carries 16 SLBM M51 missiles with a range of 10,000 km capable of carrying 6 to 10 autonomous atmospheric re-entry vehicles carrying a nuclear charge of 100 Kt.

This revelation comes as Russian military intervention in Ukraine continues to encounter very strong resistance from Ukrainian defenders, and on several lines of contact, it even seems that the initiative has changed sides. Thus, the Ukrainian armed forces have managed, in recent days, to carry out some brilliant actions, such as the destruction of more than ten Russian air force helicopters at the Kherson air base , or the release of the mayor of Melitopol from the hands of Russian forces. Above all, Russian losses continue to accumulate beyond what the deployed military system cannot support. Thus, according to US intelligence, more than 7,000 Russian soldiers have now lost their lives since February 24 in Ukraine, i.e. a total loss that can be estimated at more than 25,000 men taking into account the wounded, prisoners (Ukraine announces more than 1,000 prisoners of war), and desertions.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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