:: LE REDOUTABLE CLASS (1967-1982) ::

Le Redoutable class ballistic missile submarine S 614 Le Tonnant (1977) High resolution picture

Unlike Britain, France developed its program of nuclear deterrence based on the submarine weapon with independence of United States. This policy resulted in a much greater effort and development timespan, but the worst consequence was a family of ballistic missiles of inferior prestations than those in the American and Soviet arsenals. The first French SLBM, denominated MSBS M-1, had an operational range of only 2400 kilometers. This shortcoming was however substantially improved in the subsequent versions of the missile. The MSBS M-4, which entered service in 1985, had a range over 4000 kilometers and six warheads. But still this missile fell short in comparison with the best foreign models.

The six nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines of Le Redoutable class were launched between 1967 and 1982. These submarines were fitted with two auxiliary Diesel engines associated with one electric motor, to provide propulsion in the event of failure in the main nuclear/turbo-electric propulsion system, with enough fuel for about 8000 kilometers. The last vessel of the class, L'Inflexible, was a substantially different version which introduced improved technology, and was able to dive about 100 meters deeper than her sisters. The French SSBN/SLBM program was a major success but one achieved at a high price. The class started to be obsolete in the 1990s and was gradually replaced by the new Triomphant class; the last unit of the class, L'Inflexible, was decommissioned in 2008.

Le Redoutable class: 6 units (S 611 Le Redoutable, S 612 Le Terrible, S 610 Le Foudroyant, S 613 L'Indomptable, S 614 Le Tonnant, S 615 L'Inflexible)

Type: Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine

Length: 128.7 meters

Beam: 10.6 meters

Draught: 10 meters

Displacement (surfaced): 8045 tonnes

Displacement (submerged): 8940 tonnes

Propulsion: 1 x shaft, 1 x electric motor Jeumont Schneider 16000 horsepower, 1 x turbo-electric group, 1 x nuclear reactor 100 megawatt, 1 x auxiliary electric motor, 2 x auxiliary Diesel-electric group 750 kilowatt

Speed (surfaced): 20 knots (37 kilometers/hour)

Speed (submerged): 25 knots (46.3 kilometers/hour)

Range: Theoretically unlimited; 60 days of endurance

Operational depth: 300 meters

Complement: 135

Armament: 16 x MSBS M-20 (later M-4 TN-70) SLBM, 4 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 18 x torpedo/missile (L5 or F17 torpedo, SM-39 Exocet antiship missile from the mid 1980s)

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