France: Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, announces the launch of the 3rd generation ballistic missile submarines

Paris, February 19th, 2021 – Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, following the guidelines of the President of the Republic, has decided to launch the programme of four 3rd generation ballistic missile submarines (SNLE 3G), given the positive results of the preparatory studies conducted by the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) and the armed forces.

The 2019-2025 military programming law provides that 3G SSBNs will replace the current Le Triomphant-type SSBNs as they are withdrawn from service from 2035, in order to ensure the continuity of the Force’s deterrence posture. strategic oceanic (FOST), with at least one SSBN on patrol at sea at all times.

The SNLE 3G programme is led by the armed forces and the General Directorate of Armaments, which is responsible for the overall project, in collaboration with the Military Applications Department of the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA / DAM) for nuclear propulsion. It is the subject of a framework agreement with the industry for the development, industrialization, logistics and production of the four 3G SNLEs. Naval Group provides overall project management for the manufacture of submarines, in co-contracting with TechnicAtome for the construction of nuclear boilers.

The first contract, which will be notified in 2021, covers development studies until the end of 2025, the realization of the first elements of the hull and the boiler of the first SNLE 3G, as well as the adaptation of the industrial manufacturing infrastructure of Naval Group to the specific construction features of the SNLE 3G.

The SNLE 3G programme is a sovereign programme, at the heart of French defense; it is a major investment by the state that will irrigate the French industrial fabric for several decades.

The oceanic component of nuclear deterrence relies on nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs) that ensure the ability to inflict absolutely unacceptable damage to any aggressor state who threatens the nation’s vital interests.

This mission is currently fulfilled by the four second generation SNLE (SNLE 2G) Le Triomphant type boats. The 3G SSBNs will take over from these submarines. They will respond to the evolving threat for the next 50 years and will carry future versions of the M51 strategic missile.

The development and construction of 3G SNLEs will capitalize on the achievements of the 2G SNLE programs and Barracuda nuclear attack submarines. Their architecture will allow continuous improvement of their operational performance. Compared to their predecessors, the 3G SSBNs will feature several important technological advances, notably with further improved acoustic discretion, better hydrodynamics, increased maneuverability and even quieter propulsion. Stealth will be increased thanks to new coatings. All the sensors will be at the best technological standard, in particular in underwater detection.

The SSBN remains the most complex technological object in the world. It is at the same time an on-board nuclear boiler, a rocket launching platform, a combat ship with a crew of more than 100 sailors to live underwater, in complete autonomy and in complete discretion for nearly three months. The SSBN is a concentrate of high technology equipped with the most modern equipment in terms of detection, communication, self-defense and of course the deployment of its strategic armament, the intercontinental missile M51. The construction of SNLE 3G requires the integration of nearly 100,000 devices, as well as hundreds of kilometers of cables and circuits. Such an achievement requires a rare technological and industrial know-how that very few countries in the world have completely.

To meet these challenges in the long term, it is necessary to perpetuate a leading sovereign industrial sector in the engineering and production of high tonnage submarines and on-board nuclear boilers.

This sector of excellence benefits the entire French naval industry, whether national or export programs. Almost 90% of the added value of the SNLE 3G programme will be produced in France for several decades, which represents around 3,000 direct jobs of very high qualification that cannot be de-located

Source French MoD

Image courtesy French MoD