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Here is the First Image of the French Navy Next Generation SSBN - SNLE 3G

Navy Recognition saw for the first time an image showing the future nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). The programme called "SNLE 3G" (for 3rd generation SSBN) is set to replace the current fleet of SSBN (Triomphant-class) in about 15 years. We saw the image last week at a Naval Group site in Brest, as we were taking part in the Euronaval 2018 press trip.


By Xavier Vavasseur - Editor in Chief
Navy Recognition saw for the first time an image showing the future nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). The programme called "SNLE 3G" (for 3rd generation SSBN) is set to replace the current fleet of SSBN (Triomphant-class) in about 15 years. We saw the image last week at a Naval Group site in Brest, as we were taking part in the Euronaval 2018 press trip.


Here is the first Image of the French Navy Next Generation SSBN SNLE 3G 1 SNLE 3G will be longer than the Triomphant-class. It will feature an X-rudder and a pump-jet.


Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a preliminary analysis of the design based on what we see.

SNLE 3G appears to be longer than the Triomphant-class (we are guessing 6 to 10 meters longer). It features an X-rudder similar to the Barracuda SSN but with very large control surfaces unlike any other submarine design. It is fitted with a pump-jet propulsion system. The sail design appears to be closer to the found one on the Scorpene SSK than the Barracuda.


SNLE 2G Triomphant Triomphant-class 2nd-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine – © Alain Monot / French Navy


Because he is way more knowledgeable about submarine than we are, contacted submarine expert H I Sutton to get his professional insight. Here is what he had to say about SNLE 3G:

The SNLE-3G will be larger than the current Triomphant-class SSBN. We see a similar trend in other western SSBN projects such as the US Navy's Columbia-class and Royal Navy Dreadnought-class. A primary driver for the increase is likely be the reactor and machinery space which will be significantly quieter than the current generation.

The increased size is unlikely to translate into more missile tubes. The general trend is toward fewer missiles.

The combination of sail mounted forward hydroplanes and x-form stern control surfaces is similar to the Colombia Class. The long rider surfaces are distinctive however.

Overall the design appears advanced and in keeping with the pace of submarine development, but still relatively conventional. It is not a radical departure from current boats in terms of overall form. Internally however key systems such as propulsion and sonar may be significantly evolved.

H I Sutton is a submarine expert and the author of "World Submarines Covert Shores Recognition Guide" (his book is available on Amazon at this link). He also regularly shares his analyses on his blog . H I Sutton traced the development and employment of submarines, including less well known or understood types frequently overlooked in popular analysis.


Here is the first Image of the French Navy Next Generation SSBN SNLE 3G 2 The entire range of current and future submarines designed and built by Naval Group


SNLE 3G / FMOD Futur Moyen Oceanique de Dissuasion
As the life of a nuclear submarine is 40 years, the question of the replacement of the Triomphant class is arising, for a replacement of the class in the 2030ies. To this end, the French Procurement Agency (DGA) budgeted in 2012 the first studies for the so-called "SNLE 3G" program, the 3rd generation of French SSBNs. These submarines will feature a number of new technologies, including next generation sonar systems by Thales. In terms of effectors, a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is being studied as well. The development of the SNLE 3G (and the future version of ballistic missiles) is expected to be launched soon as part of the 2019 - 2025 military planning law. Naval Group will be constructing the four SSBNs at its shipyard in Cherbourg.