The French Navy’s new strategic submarine, SNLE-3G is one of a new breed of Western ballistic missile submarines. Together with the U.S. Navy’s Columbia-class and the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought it will be particularly stealthy. Its noise levels will be lower than the surrounding ocean making it very hard to detect. Combined with a host of new technologies this should ensure its survivability against future threats.
Submarines thrive on stealth, especially those carry a country’s nuclear deterrence. They do not want to be heard and tracked using sonar, which is why modern nuclear submarines are built to be extremely quiet. But as adversaries get ever better at detecting them, newer submarines have to be even quieter. In an exclusive interview with Naval News, the French Navy (Marine Nationale) officer in charge of the program explained that:
“The submarine will be so quiet that its radiated noise may be less than the ambient noise in the ocean”.
SNLE-3G Program Officer, French Navy
Together with a massive leap in its own sonar and non-acoustic sensors, this should maintain survivability against future foes. “This is key because they are expected to serve from 2035 until the latter part of the century” the officer explained.
Full scale development of the new submarine, known as SNLE-3G (Sous-marin nucléaire lanceur d’engins – 3rd generation), was launched by the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, on February 19. The new class, which has not yet received a ship name, will replace the current Le Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). Like the current boats the new submarines will be built by Naval Group.