French Navy’s Newest Nuclear Attack Submarine Suffren Launches MdCN Cruise Missile for First Time

The French Navy’s first Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarine Suffren successfully completed the test firing of MdCN cruise missile off the DGA Essais de missiles site in Biscarrosse, Landes on Oct. 20.

The test-firing was part of the weapon integration qualification of the Suffren, carried out as part of the boat’s sea trials conducted by the French defense procurement agency, DGA (“General Directorate of Armaments”), since last April.

“For the first time, a French submarine fires a cruise missile. This success gives our Navy a new strategic capability and places it among the best in the world. This new weaponry is a real breakthrough, the result of years of effort and investment, in particular permitted by the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law. I congratulate all those – French Navy, DGA, industry – who made this firing possible. Until now, French submarine forces could strike submarines and surface ships. They can now destroy heavy land infrastructure at long range,” said a statment by French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly.

Prepared by teams from the DGA, French Navy, and companies MBDA (manufacturer of the MdCN missile) and Naval Group (primary contractor for submarine), the test firing of the MdCN naval cruise missile is the latest milestone in a series of tests which has made it possible to verify correct operation of weapon systems and, more generally, the combat system of the Suffren .

With a range of several hundred kilometers, the MdCN (Missile De Croisière Naval, “Naval cruise missile”) is suitable for destroying infrastructures of high strategic value. After the FREMM multi-mission frigates, the SNA Suffren are the first French vessel equipped with this conventional deep strike capability.

During the tests in the Mediterranean, the Suffren also successfully carried out the test firing of an Exocet SM39-type anti-ship missile off the DGA Essais de missiles site based on the island of Île du Levant, Var. The submarine also carried out several test shots of a F21 heavyweight torpedo. This new generation weapon is ultimately intended for all French Navy submarines.

The qualification of the entire Suffren weapon system paves the way for the end of sea trials and its overall qualification. This will authorize its delivery to the French Navy, now expected to take place by the end of 2020, for the verification of its military characteristics and then its admission to active service in 2021.

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