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France launches SNLE 3G SSBN programme

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has launched the Sous-marin Nucléaire Lanceur d’Engins de 3e Génération (SNLE 3G) third-generation strategic ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) programme, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, announced on its website on 19 February.

The DGA expected the first contract to be awarded in 2021, covering development studies lasting until 2025, the production of the first elements of the SNLE 3G's hull and nuclear boiler room, and the preparation of Naval Group's production facilities to build the SSBN.

France has launched the SNLE 3G SSBN programme, the DGA announced on 19 February. (Ministère des Armées)

France has launched the SNLE 3G SSBN programme, the DGA announced on 19 February. (Ministère des Armées)

France's Loi de Programmation Militaire (LPM) 2019–2025 military funding programme foresees the SNLE 3G gradually replacing the current Le Triomphant-class SSBNs starting in 2035 to maintain the deterrent capablities of France's Force Océanique Stratégique (Strategic Ocean Force) with at least one SSBN permanently on patrol.

The SNLE 3G programme will be conducted by the French Armed Forces and the DGA, which is responsible for the overall programme, in co-operation with the Military Applications Department of France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) on the submarine's nuclear propulsion system.

Under a framework agreement with industry on the development, industrialisation, logistics, and production of four SNLE 3Gs, Naval Group will be in charge of the overall project management of the submarines. TechnicAtome will be contracted to build the SNLE 3G's nuclear boiler rooms.

The DGA said that the SNLE 3G is at the heart of French defence and a major investment in French industry, with 90% of added value to be produced in France over several decades, benefitting the national shipbuilding industry in both domestic and export markets.

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