The M51 SLBM is a submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by Airbus Defence & Space, and deployed with the French Navy. Designed to replace the M45 SLBM (In French terminology the MSBS - Mer-Sol-Balistique-Stratégique “Sea-ground-Strategic ballistic”), it was first deployed in 2010.
The three-stage engine of the M51 is directly derived from the solid propellant boosters of Ariane 5. Like other blunt-nosed SLBM, such as the Trident D5, the M51 uses an extensible aerospike in the nose.
The missiles are a compromise over the M5 SLBM design, which was to have a range of 11,000 km (6,800 mi) and carry 10 new generation Tête nucléaire océanique' (“Oceanic nuclear warhead”) MIRVs. Design work on the M5 started in 1992, before the programme was renamed the M51 in 1996, when development costs decreased by 20 percent. The M51 entered service in 2010.
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