France is a member of NATO, but in contrast to neighboring Britain, its nuclear forces are not included in the North Atlantic alliance. As expected, Paris will continue to pursue a long-term policy of maintaining the independence of its nuclear arsenal, without sharing control over it, that is, according to the recipes of Charles de Gaulle. In this regard, it is interesting to trace history the creation and formation of a strategic arsenal of France, to assess its state and development prospects.
The nuclear program of France was launched in October 1945, when the Atomic Energy Commissariat (Commissariat l'Energie Atomique) was created. He was headed by the Nobel laureate Frederic Joliot-Curie. Having created a mature scientific school and a good technical base back in 30, France was able to resume work on atomic energy relatively quickly. 15 December 1948 of the year launched the first French heavy water reactor, and by the start of the 1954, the second one. But until the middle of 50, the country's military-political leadership did not think of creating its own nuclear weapons and relied entirely on the United States. For example, in July 1952, the National Assembly adopted the first five-year plan for the development of the nuclear industry, which had a markedly peaceful character, although it involved the construction of an enterprise for the industrial production of plutonium.
In 1987, the modernization of the previously built SSBNs began with the equipment of their improved SLBM M-4В (its range increased to five thousand kilometers). The process was completed in 1993, when four ships of the Redoubt type returned to combat patrols. Only the head submarine was removed from the forces of constant readiness, written off and transferred to the museum exhibition.
With the adoption of the newest supersonic fighter-bomber "Mirage 1984" in 2000 (combat radius - up to 1480 kilometers), its certification for nuclear missions began, upgrading to the level "2000N". The first ASMP kits for them were delivered in July 1988-th, and for decked "Super Etandar" - in June 1989-th.
The ground component of the French strategic nuclear forces developed due to a single-stage solid-fuel operational tactical missile (OTR) "Ades" with a firing range of up to 480 kilometers. Its development began in 1984-m, field testing of the complex on a wheeled chassis - in 1988-m.
The military programs led to a qualitative leap in the capabilities of the national strategic nuclear forces, which received new SLBMs on submarines and aircraft with guided air-to-surface cruise missiles. Especially significantly increased the combat capabilities of the marine component - the firing range increased by 1,5 times, the circular probable deviation (KVO) decreased twice (the M-20 had 1000 meters, the M-4А and M-4В - 450 – 500), plus the equipment HRT IN.
In 1998, the air force received a new ground-based fighter-bomber "Rafal" in two versions - a double "B" and a single "C". The interceptor version of 1,8 is thousands of kilometers long, and the strike range is 1,1 thousands. Two years later, the Navy received a deck-based fighter-bomber "Rafale-M" in single modification. A part of the park of these types was later certified for nuclear tasks. At the end of the 90, the OCR opened up to deeply upgrade the ASMP rocket, and it should be completed in the next decade.
Then the government decided to limit the construction of four new SSBNs instead of the planned six. The pace slowed down: the Triumfan headboat was laid in June 1989, and the second (Temerer) - only in December 1993. "Triumfan" entered into service of the Navy in March 1997, having a new 16 SLBM M-45 development. This three-stage solid-fuel rocket has a firing range with an MIRV of IN up to six thousand kilometers, and in a sub-strategic variant, that is, with one combat unit, up to eight thousand. At the end of 1997, the third boat of the series under the name “Vigilant” was laid. In 1999, the Temerer SSBN was introduced, and in 2000, the construction of the last ship of this type, the Terribl, began. It will receive a new M-51 SLBM, the full-scale development of which began in 1998.
The rearmament program of the French nuclear forces 1996 of the year was mainly implemented by the end of 2005. In November 2004 of the year, the Vigilant SSBB entered the Navy, replacing Emdomatabl. At the same time, the Enflexible SSBN of 1985 was in service until 2008 of the year due to the delay in the construction of the fourth boat of the Triumphan type, the Terribl, which went on combat duty in 2010.
In 2000, the aircraft carrier Foch was written off and sold to Brazil, where it became the Sao Paulo. Instead, built "Charles de Gaulle" - the first French surface warship with a nuclear power plant (NPI). It can accommodate up to 40 airplanes and helicopters, the autonomy of navigation is 45 days.
In 2005, the last Mirage IVP bombers were shot, only the Mirage 2000N fighter-bombers and the Super Etandar deck with ASMP missiles remained.
In 2006, the government adopted another program for the modernization of nuclear forces, calculated up to 2015. As a result, the country's strategic arsenal was optimized for new tasks. In 2009, the Air Force officially adopted the advanced ASMP-A missile. The launch range increased to 500 kilometers, pointing accuracy improved 3,5 times. Two years later, all the strategic nuclear forces were re-equipped with this rocket. Before 2010, it was equipped with a TN-81 warhead, like an ASMP rocket, and from the 2011 of the year, a new generation of thermonuclear TNA. This lightweight, safe in operation and resistant to the damaging factors of a nuclear explosion, the warhead has an elected power of detonation in 20, 90 and 300 кт.
The fleet is also updated by gradually transferring the nuclear weapon carrier function from the Mirage 2000N and Super Etandar aircraft to the multifunctional Rafal F3 and Rafal-M F3, which are equipped with one ASMP-A missile. By July 2010, the total number of ground-based carriers was reduced from 60 to 40 units. Aviation The strategic nuclear forces component is now represented by two ground-based squadrons (20 Mirage 2000N and Rafal F3 each) and one carrier carrier - 12 Rafal-M F3 on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. Taking into account the exchange fund and the reserve, up to 57 nuclear warheads for ASMP-A missiles are allocated for them. Until 2018, it is planned to replace all remaining Mirage 2000N with Rafal F3.
In February, 2009, one of four third-generation SSBNs, the Vigilant, collided with a British submarine in the Atlantic. The French ship was under repair until October of the 2012, re-armed at the same time with the new M-51 SLBMs, and returned to the standby forces only in the summer of the 2013 of the year.
Modernization of SSBNs is underway to equip M-51 SLBMs instead of outdated M-45s. The three-stage solid-fuel rocket M-51 was put into service in the 2010 year in the M-51.1 version (with the MIRR-IN, which is equipped with the M-45 SLBM). The firing range reaches eight thousand kilometers. The work is seriously complicated by the fact that the mass of M-51.1 in 1,6 times more than M-45. Dimensions are also greater: in length - by 95 centimeters, in diameter - by 42 centimeters. When carrying out the 5 in May of the 2013 th M-51.1 test launch from the Vigilant missile, the missile deviated from the given trajectory and self-destructed. What happened can negatively affect the pace of rocket production.
As of January, the 2013 of the M-51.1 SLBMs have been re-equipped with the Terribl and Vigilant SSBNs. It is expected that by the year 2018 the other two boats of the series will receive the M-51.2 SLBM. This missile with a warship of the IN, equipped with six warheads of the new TNO design (each with a power of 150 kt), can be put into service in the 2015 year. It is estimated that the firing range will increase to nine thousand kilometers due to a lighter head.
These ships are part of the 3 squadron of nuclear missile submarines of the strategic naval command of the French Navy, based on the Ile-Long near Brest. As part of the combat-ready forces are constantly three SSBNs. One carries out combat patrols, two carry combat duty at the point of deployment, maintaining established readiness for sailing. It is believed that rocket firing from atomic-powered "Triumfan" type is made from a submerged position, but some sources indicate that they, like their Russian counterparts, are capable of firing missiles from a surface position. The fourth boat is under repair or re-equipment with the withdrawal from the forces of constant readiness.
Established over the decades, the system of operating SSBNs allows the command of the French Navy to save on shipments of missiles and nuclear warheads: ordered for one piece of ammunition less than the number of boats in service. This means that the French SSBN grouping has an 48 SLBM with 288 nuclear warheads. Their total reserves for naval strategic nuclear forces are estimated at approximately 300 units, taking into account the exchange fund and reserve. And in total, the French nuclear forces include 100 carriers - 52 aviation and naval 48, on which 340 nuclear ammunition can be deployed. The total charge margin is presumably no more than 360 units.
The main postulate of the French nuclear strategy, developed back in the 60-s, is the principle of "deterrence in all azimuths". To do this, the SNF must be able to "prevent any potential aggressor from encroaching on the vital interests of France by creating a threat to which he will be exposed in this case." An assessment of the state and prospects for the development of a nuclear arsenal suggests that this country has the potential that adequately corresponds to the basic tenets of its strategy and, importantly, is a guarantee of its independence in making major strategic and foreign policy decisions, guaranteeing a sufficiently high status of the country in the world. This was precisely what Charles de Gaulle wanted when he decided to create a national nuclear arsenal. It seems that the goal has been achieved.
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