Franco-British Strategic Nuclear Deterrence Is Considerable


Nuclear war may be around the corner, the deluded Putin, tail between his legs, is that crazy that he may not realize that his “escalate to de-escalate” insanity would be of no advantage to him and his criminal entourage. So it’s a good point to consider the main deterrent of the West: the strategic nuclear forces of the US, Britain and France (3 of the 5 powers allowed nuclear weapons under UN law). It turns out that, in a strategic nuclear exchange involving the ultimate weapon, the strategic nuclear submarines, the Franco-British contribution is equivalent to 50% of the US… No doubt that complicates considerably the computation of nuclear war planners who are criminal enough to work for Putin…

Who has a stronger navy: the United Kingdom or France (not counting nuclear submarines)?

Both European navies have Strategic Submarines Ballistic Nuclear. Four of them each. The French ones carry an armament of 16 M51 SLBM missiles manufactured by the Aérospatiale (now Airbus Defence and Space), plus conventional torpedoes and Exocet anti-ship missiles. The M51 missiles carries on a “bus” 6 to 10 MIRV warheads of 110 kiloton (kt) each, 8 times Hiroshima, with penetration aids, and a precision of 150–200 meters. One such missile could annihilate all the decision centers in Moscow (and millions of deluded Moscovites who watch too much Putin TV). The range of the M51 is secret, but believed to be around 10,000 kilometers (the same tech is used on the Ariane rocket).

These SSBNs are really Armageddon weapons… Yes Putin has them, sort of, namely at least on paper; but the devil is in the details: nukes have to work, and subs have to be undetected. France, the US, and the UK have dozens of hunter subs… Keeping nukes in good, that is explosive, order, cost a fortune (it’s unlikely all the 6,200 nukes of Putin work; it’s more likely that most of them, don’t work…)

To come back to France and Britain,

the two Navies are roughly comparable, and, the French having dutifully forgotten the tragedy of Mers El Kebir, and the Brits more than contrite about it, the two navies are more than friendly to each other. If Scotland seceded, British subs would use French bases. France Naval Group has launched its second 100 meter long nuclear powered Barracuda attack submarine, arguably the world’s most modern and silent sub. It is using a type of propulsion the US Navy plans to have around 2030… The Barracuda class subs can silence their nuclear reactors for long periods, something no other nuclear sub can do (yet). Hot nuclear reactors have always circulating water and tend to be noisy… whereas air independent diesel subs can made much more silent… and can be much more silent for a full month under water! The Barracudas have the best of the two technologies…
Although not directly strategic, such subs can hunt and destroy Putin and Xi’s subs…

One of the British SSBN used to be without nukes, but, considering the increasing Sino-Russian war noises, that has been reversed (nukes cost a lot of money to just keep ready to function; French nukes cost 5 billion dollars a year, just to keep them ready to explode with enough fresh Tritium, etc.). Also the French SSBNs have 100% French equipment, including French equivalents of the US Trident II. UK subs have US systems, US missiles, Trident II… Also the UK Navy uses Thales and other French electronics all over, for the UK subs and the UK ships. Thales is French (originally)… Thales also makes 24/7 in Belfast, Ireland, the British “NLAW” antitank weapons which have destroyed so many of Putin’s tanks.

British carriers are restricted to F35s, since they do not have catapults (which make the French carrier interoperable with the US ones; CATOBAR enables it to launch heavier, more capable planes).

The real defect of Franco-British defense is not quality, which is top notch, but having too few weapons. Macron, following Biden by a few months, has called the French military-industrial complex to go into a war mode. However the expanded French military budget has not been voted on yet, and it takes time to ramp up. Thales is producing nearly enough electronics for five Rafales a month.

All the British nuclear deterrent is in its 4 SSBNs… the French have the same number of SSBNs, but also also nuclear bombers and supersonic standoff 300kt nuclear missiles). So Franco-Britannia has 8 strategic nuclear subs so silent once two collided with each other while deep in the ocean… whereas the US has 14 such submarines… In other words, the nuclear strategic strike capability of the West is considerably augmented by the Franco-British arsenal. Just one of these 22 subs could kill of the order of 50 million people in 20 minutes, and as a French general officer commented:”We think that’s enough!”.

However, tyrant Putin has definitively demonstrated that this is not enough, because threatening the enemy with Armageddon does not help fight a conventional war.

British SSBN going back home in Scotland…

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8 Responses to “Franco-British Strategic Nuclear Deterrence Is Considerable”

  1. Nick Pirie Says:

    At least one of the British SSBN`s will not have nukes on it I would have thought while it is undergoing maintenance . The French will be the same. The British use a continuous at sea deterrence – this means at all time at least one SSBN will be at sea – armed. A second will be at readiness, the third and 4th will be undergoing training and maintenance

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      France put two SSBNs at sea in February when Putin went off the deep end. That would have been enough to severely annihilate all of Russia.
      Generally 4 SSBNs are in maintenance between France and UK. However, a decade ago or so, the UK decided to reduce the number of its nukes considerably, and to do as the US, which has converted 4 SSBNs to conventional cruise missile launchers. So one UK SSBN was converted. But last year, under PM BoJo, the policy was reversed, and the number of nukes augmented. However only 8 silos out of 12 have Trident II on the UK subs.
      The French subs have their 16 silos fully equipped with M51’s which can each carry up to ten MIRVed warheads, and fly 10,000 kms…

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      • Nick Pirie Says:

        No Vanguard was converted. The strategic defence review for the Dreadnaught class considered a reduction to 3 boats, but decided 4 were needed. Although its quoted only 8 missiles are carried (with up to 8 MIRV`s but more normally 5), that would never be confirmed (even on low numbers 40 nukes is enough to ruin anyones day). As for numbers at sea – there is always at least one. This implies there will be times when 2 are at sea as it makes sense to have one launched before the other returns. The Vanguard also has 16 tubes, the Dreadnaught will be reduced to 12.

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Well, as I said in my long essay, the policy of reduction was reversed last year. France’s new SSBN will have 16 tubes, same as future US Columbia SSBN.

          Now for official policy, from UK Parliament:

          Nuclear policy

          The UK adopts a posture of minimal credible nuclear deterrence, assigned to the defence of NATO. The UK does not have a policy of ‘no-first use’.

          Position on disarmament

          Since the end of the Cold War, the UK has taken a number of disarmament steps in support of the NPT. It has withdrawn all other nuclear weapons systems except for its submarine-launched Trident system. It has made changes to the operational status of the deterrent and been increasingly transparent about its nuclear inventory.

          Under commitments outlined in the 2010 SDSR, the UK was expected to have achieved, by the mid-2020s, a 65% reduction in the size of its overall nuclear stockpile since the height of the Cold War.

          However, the 2021 Integrated Review announced that the 2010 commitments could no longer be met due to the current security environment. As such, it announced that the cap on the nuclear stockpile will now be raised and that information on operational stockpile, deployed missiles and deployed warheads would no longer be made available. Both decisions have led many to question the Government’s commitment to disarmament.

          Nuclear capabilities

          Nuclear stockpile – Currently 225 warheads.
          Under the 2021 Integrated Review the cap on the UK’s nuclear stockpile, will increase to no more than 260 warheads, a 40% increase on previous commitments.
          The UK is the only nuclear weapon state that has reduced to a single deterrent system.
          Operates continuous at-sea deterrence (CASD).
          https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9077/#:~:text=Nuclear%20capabilities,to%20a%20single%20deterrent%20system.

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  2. Brent McKee Says:

    Brent McKee:
    I’d also suggest that there’s a quality gap as well. When Canada was trying to establish a nuclear submarine fleet in the 1980s both the Rubis and the Trafalgar Class were under consideration. The Rubis class were unable to penetrate 3 metre thick ice without the addition of an ice pick (as the French called it) and were noisier than the Trafalgar Class. Being quiet is generally a requirement for submarines.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Not correct. And the UK subs are stuffed with French electronics. The two finished Barracuda class subs are the world’s most advanced. They can even silence their noisy nuclear reactors for long periods, something no other nuclear sub can do (yet).

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      • Joshua Mulnick Says:

        Joshua Mulnick
        Oh yeah? This is the first time I’m hearing about that capability. Google, here I come! Btw, if you have a by suggestions as to where best to find that info I would be most appreciative. Cheers!

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          There is a first for everything… The French Suffren class (nuclear Baracuda, not the short fin AIP) has the following, which the US Navy intends to duplicate in 2030 with the SSBN Columbia class:
          * Nuclear-electric propulsion (NEP) where the screw is turned by an electric motor and not a steam turbine with reduction gearing like most other submarines. This is quieter and allows integration of batteries to further quieting.TechnicAtome K15 150 MW reactor.2x 10MW turbo-generator groups.Large batteries that allow the submarine to run at minimum reactor power for several days in near perfect quiet.2x SEMPT Pielstick 480 kW each emergency diesel generators.
          * Cheers!

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