Not every day a new submarine model is presented. Above all, when it comes to a nuclear attack submarine (SNA), a powerful war machine – or defense – that only four countries besides France have: the United States, Russia, China and the United Kingdom. It is not surprising, then, that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, wanted to be present in the shipyards of Cherbourg for the presentation of the Suffren, the new generation French-built underwater propulsion submarine ship called to renew the national fleet, to respond to the military challenges of the 21st century and, in passing, to allow France to show military power and savoir faire technological.
The Suffren It is an "industrial and technological feat" that allows "continue writing the French submarine epic," Macron said, after visiting the shipyards on the French Atlantic coast where these new submersibles are built, whose meaning goes much further, he said, of a mere military machine "What is built here is the independence of France, our sovereignty, is our freedom of action, our own condition as a great world power," said the president. The last time France held a ceremony of this kind was in 2008, for the launch of the nuclear strategic submarine Le Terrible.
The Suffren it is longer, faster, more discreet – its propulsion through a compact nuclear reactor makes it up to 10 times quieter and also does not carry a classic periscope – and, above all, more powerful and modern than its predecessor, the Rubis, released at the beginning of the eighties. "It's like going from a Peugeot 207 to Formula 1," said French Navy spokesman Bertrand Dumoulin, according to Agence France Presse.
Of 99 meters of length of black steel, although this Friday for the ceremony his prow wore the French tricolor flag, the Suffren displaces up to 5,800 tons in immersion, compared to 2,670 tons Rubis. It needs less crew -65 members instead of 75 Rubis– and, thanks to more space, for the first time a nuclear submarine may have female crew members. In addition, it has full autonomy to navigate between 70 and 90 days at 350 meters depth. This, together with the fact that it does not require more than one technical maintenance stop per year, instead of quarterly, will allow it to carry out longer and longer distance missions "whatever the conditions", according to the Ministry of Defense.
Its main mission is the protection of other jewels of the French Navy such as its aircraft carriers or nuclear submarine missile launchers (SNLE, for its acronym in French), as well as locate enemy submersibles or gather information as close to the enemy coast.
It also has a mobile bridge hangar that will allow a small submarine to be hooked Suffren, which in turn will make it possible to send special commands to perform ground missions. "It is a secret and submerged advanced base for the combat swimmers and their equipment, including a mini-submarine," the naval spokesman explained.
It also has the capacity to launch naval cruise missiles at ground targets located up to 1,000 kilometers away. It is, in the words of the Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, a "technological jewel that will allow France to maintain its status and its rank of military power".
To see the Suffren In action, however, there will be a time to wait. The ceremony this Friday was nothing more than the celebration of the end of the construction of the first of the six submarines planned under the Barracuda program, which began three years late and of high cost: in total, the six Suffren planned costs 9,100 million euros. The first tests at sea will take place next year. Until 2030, Suffren they must have replaced the six class submarines Rubis deployed since the eighties. The first one, the Saphir, He arrived in Cherbourg on Friday to be disarmed.
The chosen date to present the Suffren It is not casual. It takes place two days after the celebration of the French national holiday, on July 14, whose high point is a great military parade in Paris. Dedicated on this occasion to the European defense initiative, this year more than one hundred Spanish soldiers, among others, are invited to parade. But this month of July also recalls the second anniversary of Macron's first major clash with the military leadership, when he had only been in power for two months. The then chief of staff, General Pierre de Villiers, resigned after the president called his attention after a dispute over the military budget. Two years later, and before a strong military representation, Macron defended this Friday in Cherbourg the "unprecedented effort" made to modernize the French Army.
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