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Contents

SIPRI Yearbook 2010

SIPRI Yearbook 2010

V. French nuclear forces

Chapter:
8. World nuclear forces
Source:
SIPRI Yearbook 2010
Author(s):
Shannon N. Kile, Vitaly Fedchenko, Bharath Gopalaswamy, Hans M. Kristensen

France’s nuclear forces consist of aircraft and SSBNs, carrying a total of about 300 warheads (see table 8.5). A 2008 white paper on defence and national security includes important clarifications concerning French nuclear forces. France will continue to rely on the ‘principle of strict sufficiency’ (corresponding to a ‘minimum deterrence’ policy) as a guarantor of its security, and the ‘operational credibility’ of the deterrent relies on ‘permanent submarine patrols and airborne capability’85. France will also continue to sustain its nuclear weapon complex, including the research and development capabilities. In order to maintain the ‘technical credibility’ of its nuclear weapons in the absence of nuclear testing and facilities producing weapon-grade material, in 1996 France started a nuclear weapon simulation programme, employing the Laser Mégajoule (LMJ, megajoule laser), radiography and supercomputers86.

Table 8.5. French nuclear forces, January 2010

Type

No. deployed

Year first deployed

Range (km)a

Warheads × yield

Warheads in stockpile

Land-based aircraft

Mirage 2000N

60

1988

2 750

1 × 300 kt ASMP

1 × . . kt ASMP-A

50

Rafale F3

(2010)

2000

1 × . . kt ASMP-A

Carrier-based aircraft

Super Étendard

24

1978

650

1 × 300 kt ASMP

10

Rafale MK3

(2010)

2000

1 × . . kt ASMP-A

Submarine-launched ballistic missiles

M45

48

1996

6 000b

4–6 × 100 kt

240

M51

(2010)

6 000

4–6 × 100 kt

Total

300c

. . = not available or not applicable; ( ) = uncertain figure; ASMP = Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (medium-range air-to-surface missile); ASMP-A = ASMP-Amélioréé (improved ASMP).

(a) Aircraft range is for illustrative purposes only; actual mission range will vary according to flight profile and weapon loading.

(b) The range of the M45 is listed as only 4000 km in a 2001 report from the National Defence Commission of the French National Assembly.

(c) The warhead stockpile will be reduced to fewer than 300 warheads in the near future. France does not have a reserve but may have a small inventory of spare warheads.

Sources: Sarkozy, N., French President, Speech on defence and national security, Porte de Versailles, 17 June 2008, <http://www.defense.gouv.fr/livre_blanc/>; French Ministry of Defence website, various policy papers, press releases and force profiles; French National Assembly, various defence bills; Norris, R. S. et al., Nuclear Weapons Databook, vol. 5, British, French, and Chinese Nuclear Weapons (Westview: Boulder, CO, 1994), p. 10; Air Actualités, various issues; Aviation Week and Space Technology, various issues; ‘Nuclear notebook’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, various issues; and authors’ estimates.

Citation (MLA):
Kile, Shannon N., Vitaly Fedchenko, Bharath Gopalaswamy, and Hans M. Kristensen. "8. World nuclear forces." SIPRI Yearbook. SIPRI. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2018. <http://www.sipriyearbook.org/view/9780199581122/sipri-9780199581122-div1-74.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Kile, S., Fedchenko, V., Gopalaswamy, B., & Kristensen, H. (2016). 8. World nuclear forces. In SIPRI, SIPRI Yearbook 2010: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 18 Dec. 2018, from http://www.sipriyearbook.org/view/9780199581122/sipri-9780199581122-div1-74.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Kile, Shannon N., Vitaly Fedchenko, Bharath Gopalaswamy, and Hans M. Kristensen. "8. World nuclear forces." In SIPRI Yearbook 2010: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, SIPRI. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). Retrieved 18 Dec. 2018, from http://www.sipriyearbook.org/view/9780199581122/sipri-9780199581122-div1-74.xml
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