Final Stage in Qualification Testing
On 20 October the French nuclear-powered attack submarine SUFFREN – first of the six-boat BARRACUDA-class – successfully completed the first test firing of MBDA’s Missile de Croisière Naval (MdCN – naval cruise missile) from the missile test centre at Biscarosse.
“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,” stated French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly.
The test completes the qualification phase for integration of all the SUFFREN’s weapon and combat systems, carried out as part of its sea trials which, conducted by defence procurement agency the DGA in collaboration with the Navy, MBDA and Naval Group, have been under way since last April. This success marks a key stage in the boat’s trials with a view to its final qualification by the DGA. SUFFREN will be delivered to the Navy by the end of 2020, before entering active service in 2021.
With a range of several hundred kilometres, the MdCN is tailored for missions against infrastructure targets 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 preserves the constant, 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, 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.
The success of these firings once again proves MBDA’s mastery of underwater missile launches, a capability that remains rare in the world and contributes to French independence, removing reliance on foreign parties for security, according to a company statement.