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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Le Redoutable / L'Inflexible SNLE

The decision was taken by General de Gaulle, to start in 1962 the program " COELACANTH ", and thus equip France with nuclear submarines launchers [SNLE sous-marins nucléaires lanceurs d'engins], major elements of nuclear dissuasion. It was the birth of the Strategic Oceanic Force (FOST - Force Océanique Stratégique ). A total of six submarines of the Redoutable class were built at Cherbourg Naval Dockyard - part of the major French Naval builder DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) from 1967 to 1982. S609 Le Redoutable was launched on 29 March 1967, in the presence of General de Gaulle. It was not until 1971 when she became operational. She was decommissioned in December of 1991.

With the de-commisioning of Le Redoutable in December 1991, the remaining submarines of this class were known as L'Inflexible class SNLE M4. Four submarines underwent a two and a half year modernization overhaul in the 1980s. All were back-fitted with the M4 missile and other equipment to the same standard as L'Inflexible. Improved streamlining of M4 conversion submarines changed the silhouette so that they resemble L'Inflexible. The first operational launch of the M4 was by Le Tonnant on 15 September 1987 in the Atlantic. Other work included an improved reactor core, noise reduction efforts, and updating the sonar. Le Tonnant was recommissioned 15 October 1987; L'Indomptable on 15 June 1989; Le Terrible on 7 June 1990; and Le Foudroyant 15 February 1993.

Despite the expense of these upgrades, Le Terrible was de-commissioned in July 1996, and Le Foudroyant was de-commissioned in February 1998.

L'inflexible was decommissioned in January 2008.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:39:50 ZULU