France to build a third-gen of its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines

France claims to be the leader in the EU’s defense sphere, and its fleet is to be considered the most powerful in Europe. Another evidence is the start of the development of a new nuclear submarine.

Now, French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced the launch of the full-scale development phase of the SNLE 3G program, which calls for the construction of France’s third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs).

Research on the SNLE 3G project will be conducted until the end of 2025, after which the NAVAL Group will begin construction of the first submarine of the new generation. The first of class is scheduled to enter operational service by 2035, while three other submarines will then be delivered every five years.

TechnicAtome is in charge of the design, construction, and commissioning of the nuclear propulsion reactor, in partnership with Naval Group, which has overall responsibility for the vessels and to guarantee control of quality, deadlines, and costs.

General characteristics of SNLE 3G: The length of the SNLE 3G submarine will be 150 meters, and the underwater displacement will be 15,000 tons. The first of the submarines will receive M51 series missiles, which are now carried by Triomphant submarines. It is assumed that each such ship will be able to carry 16 ballistic missiles.

Currently, the French Navy has four Triomphant-class of ballistic missile submarines, the last of which entered the fleet in 2010. A ship of this type has an underwater displacement of 14,335 tonnes with a length of 138 meters and a width of 12.5 meters. The submarine is equipped with a 150-megawatt K15 pressurized water reactor. The submarine is capable of speeds up to 25 knots (46 km/h), and its immersion depth is 400 meters. The Triomphant-class submarine is armed with 16 M51 ballistic missiles with TN 75 warheads with a capacity of 110 kilotons. In addition, the submarine is equipped with four 533 mm torpedo tubes for launching torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.

The SNLE 3G program aims to provide a new generation of four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines that will serve the French Navy’s operational needs between the 2030s and the 2090s. They will gradually replace the second-generation SSBN that will be phased out of active service during the 2030s and 2040s to be replaced by these third-generation submarines.

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