The Fearful Giant: France’s New Behemoth Submarine

Work has officially begun on the construction of the first third-generation nuclear ballistic missile submarine, known colloquially as the SNLE 3G. This event, held in Cherbourg on the 20th of March, saw an assembly of key officials and significant participants of the industry.

The Driving Forces Behind The Program

The program's leadership is shared by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) and the Department of Military Applications of the Atomic and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), with its official inception dating back to February 2021. The construction of the SNLE 3G is spearheaded by Naval Group and TechnicAtome, acting as the primary contractors.

Key Features of the SNLE 3G

The SNLE 3G is essentially an answer to the ever-evolving threats of the next half-century. It plans to explore uncharted territories in terms of invulnerability, armed with the most advanced versions of the M51 strategic missile. This submarine will wield improved nuclear propulsion, advanced acoustics, magnetic stealth, and a state-of-the-art on-board atmosphere treatment plant.

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On the technological front, building the SNLE 3G presents its own set of . These include integrating a nuclear power plant within a 150-metre long structure and prioritizing stealth and detection capabilities. Despite these advancements, the overall cost of the program remains an undisclosed figure.

Dimensions and Armament

At 150 meters long, the SNLE 3G is 12 meters longer than its predecessor, the current “Le Triomphant” class submarines. Its tonnage, when submerged, weighs in at a hefty 15,000. It's designed to hold 16 M51 type strategic ballistic missiles.

Significance of the SNLE 3G

The Naval Group emphasizes the substantial resources needed to construct the SNLE 3G and the global rarity of such industrial and technological expertise. In addition, advancements made for the SNLE 3G will also serve to the current “Le Triomphant” class submarines, ensuring their optimal performance until at least 2050.

The Future of the SNLE 3G

The 2024-2030 Military Programming Law indicates the construction of four SNLE 3G submarines. They will be gradually replacing the older models in service, thus ensuring a seamless transition in strategic maritime deterrence. It's predicted that the will be in full possession of the first SNLE 3G submarine as early as 2035.

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