French nuclear-powered submarine fires a cruise missile for the first time

The first French naval cruise missile launch was carried out by the nuclear-powered attack submarine Suffren.

On October 20th 2020, the Suffren, the first-in-series of the six nuclear-powered attack submarines in the Barracuda programme, successfully completed the test firing of an MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval) cruise missile from the sea near the DGA missile test centre at Biscarrosse.

For the first time, a French submarine has fired a cruise missile. This success gives our Navy a new strategic capability and places it among the world’s best. This new weapon is a real breakthrough, the result of years of effort and investment, enabled by the 2019-2025 military programming law. I want to congratulate everyone – in the Navy, the DGA, and industry – who made this firing possible. Until now, France’s submarine force could strike submarines and surface ships. Henceforth, it can destroy heavy land infrastructure at long range, French defence minister Florence Parly said.

This test firing of the MdCN naval cruise missile is the last milestone in a series of tests designed to verify the functioning of the Suffren’s armaments and of its combat system in general.

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With a range of several hundred kilometres, the MdCN is tailored for missions against infrastructures of high strategic value. After the Multi-Mission Frigates (FREMM), the Suffren-class SSNs are the first French vessels to be equipped with this conventional deep strike capability. The ability to deploy the MdCN from submarines maintains the constant and undetected threat of a strike from the sea against enemy targets located far inland, and very significantly increases the penetration capacity of French weapons in military theatres of operation.

During its trials in the Mediterranean, the Suffren also successfully completed a test firing of an Exocet SM39 underwater-launched anti-ship missile from the sea near the DGA missile test centre on Île du Levant, as well as several test firings of the F21 heavy torpedo, a next-generation weapon that will ultimately be carried on all French Navy submarines say the French defence ministry.

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