France test-fires ballistic missile in bid to boost nuclear deterrence


France has successfully test-fired an M51.3 long-range ballistic missile, boosting the credibility of France's nuclear deterrence capabilities, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

The missile, which did not carry a nuclear weapon, was fired from the French army's Biscarosse missile testing site in southwest France on Saturday night and landed in the North Atlantic, "hundreds of kilometres from any coastline" the ministry said.

"The flight has allowed us to confirm a major improvement of the missile which will contribute to the lasting credibility of France's oceanic deterrence in coming decades," the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

"First successful test firing of an M51.3 strategic ballistic missile!" Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu wrote on X, formerly Twitter, adding that it not only confirmed the credibility of France's nuclear deterrent but also "demonstrates the excellence of our launch sector".

The ministry said that maintaining operational credibility of France's nuclear weapons was necessary given the international environment.

The M51.3 missile is an upgraded version of the M51, a three-stage sea-land strategic ballistic missile designed to be launched from French Navy submarines.

The M51 was first test-fired from a ground base in 2006 and from a submarine in 2010, the year it was commissioned.

Ballistic missiles are similar to rockets and follow elliptic trajectories after launch, often leaving the earth's atmosphere to reach lower space.

(with newswires)

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