The French Ministry of Defense issued a press release about the unsuccessful launch of an M51 SLBM by a Vigilan S-618 (Le Vigilant) atomic submarine (SSBN), which was the sixth in the missile flight test program and took place on 5 in May of this year. During the tests conducted by the General delegation on armaments of France DGA and French Navy, a missile without a nuclear warhead was launched from a submerged position from the waters at Cape Finster on the Atlantic coast of France. After a few seconds of flight after getting out of the water, one of the onboard systems of the rocket crashed at the launch site of the trajectory, after which a self-destruction system was put into operation and the rocket was blown up in the air in the area closed for navigation. Up to this point, the M51 SLBM has been successfully tested five times since 2006.
After the missile was detonated, launch support vessels were sent to the zone where its debris fell. Unmanned remotely-controlled underwater vehicles, scuba divers and patrol aircraft also took part in their search.
As the French Ministry of Defense emphasizes, due to the secrecy of the program for the development and testing of nuclear weapons, the results of the launch failure investigation will also be classified.
М51 is the newest three-stage solid-propellant SLBM with a firing range of more than 10 thousand km, placed on the S-616-type Le Triomfant-type SSBN and intended to replace the M45 SLBM. She was adopted by the French Navy in 2010 year.
The M51.1 missile is equipped with a TN75 split head with individual targeting (MISP) and can carry from 6 to 10 100 CT warheads and missile defense weapons. 52 m missile mass, 12 m length, 2,3 m diameter. The M51.2 rocket variant, which is planned to be used in the 2015 year, will use a new nuclear warhead with a power of 150 ct, specially designed for SSBNs.
At present, the French Navy has in service four SSBNs of the Le Triomphant S-616 type. The first three boats are armed with 16 M-45 SLBMs, and the fourth boat is the S-619 Terribble, which was included fleet in 2011 - has in service 16 SLBM M-51. The French Navy is currently implementing a re-equipment program for the first three SSBNs with M-51 missiles. This rearmament began in the winter of 2010 with the Vizhilan SSBN. Then, the M-51 will go into service with the Le Triomphant SSBNs, and in 2018 - the Temerer SSBN (S-617).
The Vigilan SSBN was upgraded to install the M51 SLBMs in 2011 and now passes a series of tests to certify new systems, including the new combat information management system (CICS) and the navigation system.
The Department of Defense emphasizes that the unsuccessful test of the new SLBM does not in any way call into question the effectiveness of the national nuclear deterrent forces as part of the sea SLBMs and aviation ASMP + air-to-surface missiles.
The first flight test of an M51 SLBM with an inert warhead was conducted on November 9 2006 from the Rocket Test Center in Bikaross (Landa). The site of the MS fall, which occurred 20 minutes after launch, was located in the northwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean.
The second and third tests took place on 21 June 2007, respectively, and 13 November 2008, respectively.
The submarine launch of the Terribl SSBN (the fourth in a row) took place on 27 on January 2010. The missile flew 20 km in less than 4500 minutes and reached the drop point located in 2000 km from the coast of South Carolina.
After the launch of 5, which took place on July 10 2010, it was confirmed that the M51 BLRL could be used with a submarine type "Le Triomfant" in combat conditions.