FRENCH DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS DELIVERY SYSTEMS

Created: 1/1/1970

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

FRENCH DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS DELIVERY SYSTEMS

PROBLEM

To assess the probable nature, effectiveness, and timing of various French nuclear weapons delivery systems.

CONCLUSIONS

French will have developed three nuclear weapons delivery systemshe Mirage IVaircraft/nuclear bomb system Is already partlyA land-based IRBM system insites probably is being developed; if so, deployment probably will begin Inuclear submarine/ballistic missile system is also under highdevelopment, but the firstwill not begin sea trials9 or

The French deterrent force will be slight until an effective IRBM has been developedimited number of them deployed.his force probably will have grownixture of land-based IRBM's and ballistic missilewhich, though limited inwill comprise an effective nuclear strike force against population centers.

Mirage IV delivery systemweaknesses, chief amongits inadequate range forthe USSR and its probabletoass penetration ofBloc defenses. The French areto Increase the range of the bomber and also plan to use refueling, but cannot strengthen the system sufficiently to make it effecttvo for mass penetration.

he probable land-based IRBMsystem wouldol id-pro-pellant two-stage missile. The Grenoble region of metropolitan France may have been chosen as the area of siloThe number of missiles to bo land-based cannot be estimated reliably;vary from.

he French nuclear ballisticsubmarines will be slightly larger than the newest US missile submarines. The announced design range of0auticalhe rangeautical miles Is adequate to reach practically all Soviet population centers west of the Urals. From three to five of these submarines are planned. By the time the first one is operational In the

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s, we believe that an adequate solid-propellant missile will have been developed for this system.

DISCUSSION

MIRAGE IV NUCLEAR WEAPONS DELIVERY SYSTEM

A force ofirage IV supersonic bombers is the planned "firstnuclear weapons delivery system of tho Frenoh force dewelve reportedly have been delivered throughbe scheduled production rateer month with the fiftieth unit to be deliveredccording to the air sectionrench Senate report ofn additionalre planned for productionto take care of anticipated attrition and tomall number ofaircraft. The principalof the bomber (sec figurere as follows:

bs.

bs.

bs.

Ui,9k0 lbs. (eachngines)

ach

Maximm takeoff weight

Internal fuel

Bomb load

Engine thrust (with

Kaxlnun spaed at sea level

Kaxiwan speed at altitude

.

Maximum radius at low altitude

Basic radius of operation

*The French have stated, without explanation, that tbe rangeautical miles without refueling, but this figure probably represents optimum performance.

The Mirage IV delivery system has been termed obsolete and inadequate by many, including some importantly placed French officials. Only the major Soviet cities of Minsk and Kiev are withinile n '

ibleew of theirage IV's could penetrate Soviet air defensesuclear strike.trike would presumablyaximum effort to use all available bombers and would be precededaintenance standdown, which, with other indicators, would probably betray French Intentions to the Soviet Union. Nothing the French could do wouldincrease the Mirage IV's ability to penetrate Soviet defenses. Thus,uclear threat against the Soviet Union, the Mirage IV la gravely deficient.

DlggEM.

To reach targets within the Soviet Un-i, an actual mission would00 feot whererage IV cruises at about, Thisand altitude render lt extremelyvulnerable to attack by the extensiveiet surface-to-air missile defensesheoviet fighters deployed west of Moscow. Betterof Soviet air defenses would bo achieved by attack at altitudes eet and at subsonic speeds, but tho range of tho bomber under theseisautical miles. Thustargets could not be reached with low-level missions from France. There has been considerable reporting on French schemes to Increase tho strike capability ofthe Mirage IV. Twelve Boeinget tankers have beenfor aerial refueling of thebut even successftil refuelings will not greatly Improve the range capability of thellustrates the range capability of the bomber boththe condition of refueling andirect flight over NATOterrltory.ltalso graphically depicts the air defenses of the Soviet Union and Its allies.

There are three possible routesombing mission to the USSR mightorthern dog-leg route overtheouthern dog-leg route over tho Medl-teranean;irect route due east over Germany and through the heaviestof Soviet air defenses.auIleal-mile combat radius of tbe Mirage IV would not permit tbe aircraft to reach Moscow Itself using any of these routes, although numerous centers of population west of Moscow could be brought under attack. If the Frenohwere to acquire air-to-surface missiles (ASM)

*Four or five tankers had beenby

has encountered serious difficulties in building these engines and appears to have cancelled this effort and decided to build under license the Pratt and Whitneyn itsassault has purchased two Pratt and Whitneyngines for the first Mirageircraftost0 each, and other purchases will follow until SNECMA is able to build satisfactoryThus.despltethedesireofthe French to fit the Mirage IV bombers with larger engines, the production run of these bombers will probably be over half finished by the time these engines become available in quantity. Therefore, the French appear forcedeithertoacceptthe shorter range given by the presentngine or to later refit thewith more advanced engines. The range of the Mirage TV withould beautical miles.

In summary, the French appear to haveirst generation nuclear weapons delivery system of dubious and marginal effectiveness. The "deterrent quality" of this force appears to lie only In the fact that the Soviets could never be sure that some Mirage IV'8 would not penetrate their defenses.At this point the French can only scrap the bomberor accept its limitations, which will surely become more acute as the aerial defenses of the Soviets increase inin the next fewyears. It wasthe realization of these unpalatable facts which prompted them to consider employing IRBM's in numbers on French soil.

French plan to use thengine to power the new Mirageir-craft,f which may ultimately be produced by Ge'nerale Ae'ronautique Marcel Dassault (GAMD).

NUCLEAR SUBMARINE BALLISTIC MISSILE DELIVERY SYSTEM

The French contracted with the United States9 for the deliveryo permitand-based submarinereactor.0 they apparently decided to make their first nucleara ballistic missile type. They very sensibly decided to finish the hull of their earlier attempted nucleardesign (on whichconstructionwas abandonedonventionally propelled submarine test platform with four missile tubes installed. This vessel, the Gymas launched in"

b

? tubes as

nches in diameter8 feet Inhese dimensions, if correct, indicatethatthe French have fixed thelength of the missile to be carried at abouteet.inch tubea missile diameter of aboutonches would be appropriate. Based upon theseissile gross weight of0 pounds isThese design parameters of length and gross weight will demand that the Frencheentry vehiole weighing no moreounds, assumingthey are able to achieve an overall missile performance comparable to that ofthe US

*Gymnote translates "electric eel."

The French publication Air et Cosmos states that the first nuclear submarine was "placed on stocks"3 atNaval Shipyard.hows the

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tons (surface)

ons (submerged)

eet

nots

h

Moreeters

submarine's profile according to the French press. Its announcedare as follows:15

Displacement*

Displacement

Length

Speed

Number of torpedo tubes

Number of missiles

Number of propellers

Operating depth

surface displacement of the newest OSons.

2

135

Number of propulsion turbines

Number of turbo-alternators

Number of crew

The announced design range toissilesilometersauticalllustrates the citywhich could be reached from firing positions in the Mediterranean andseas. Practically every Soviet center of population east of the Urals is within the longer range. The figure also graphically displays the number ofwhich the French can place onwith one, two, and threeinimum of three submarines istoonsistent number of missiles on station. In fact, someFrench sources have statedotal of five missile-firing submarines will ultimately be

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secre4

prototype nuclear propulsion plant for those submarines, which has beenconstruction1 atCadarache, will probably become operational int will serveraining device for future submarine personnel. Practically all of the plant, including the reactor pressure vessel, but excepting thecore and controls. Is being made by tbe Naval Boiler and Turbine Plant at Indret. At this installation inhe six-foot-diameter cover for the Cadaracbe reactor pressure vessel was viewed by US Navy personnel.*0

Official French statements speak of having the first nuclear submarine, the Coelacanthe. "in service"0ore realistic date for sea trials of the submarine itself.'1 Thewith which the submarine will be fitted are discussed inf this paper.hows the French Navy and CEA organization concerned with the design and construction of the submarine.

LAND-BASED IRBM SYSTEM

There are very strong indications but no certainty that tho French will deploy IRBM'a in metropolitan Franco. In3 Defense Minister Messmor,writing in Revue de De'fense Natlonale. strongly inferred that ballistic missllos would not be deployed in metropolitan France. He said:

issile andcharge are available, the choice of launching platform remains. Should itround, naval, air, or space platform? Thedepends not only on technical factors but on strategic and political ones as well. Technicallya land-basedile or stationary -burledla the mostand the mostmilitarily andspeaking, such sites raise problems for asmall country like France. Tbat is why the nuclear-poweredhas been selected as the most advantageous launching platform.

Messmer3 also stated in part, according to Lo Monde: "Discus-sions on the advisability of equipping France with atomic weapons may now be filed away, since the atomic force of the first generation (the Mirage IV delivery system) hasact. Therefore, lt is possible to push the development of the next generations, which vail consistof missiles and submarines."

Although this later statement shows consideration of missiles, it implies that the decision to go ahead with land-based systems had not been finally taken. But the decision had apparently been made,

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The number of Frenoh LRBM'a that [would be land-based varies widely in intelligence reports. Chevaliersaid inJ?

The first operational missiles will be put Insimilar to the Minute-man, Later,9hey will becomeon nuolearAt this time it is planned that the totalforce will be divided aboutercent land-based and ercent on

submarines. However, SEREB, for one, fcolavery strongly that land basing is far more desirable, and it is very possible lhat this ratio will be changed.

Based upon Chevalier's distributiona totalould be

o Tu mna-Dased iu issues* ure Contemplated. On the other hand, in4 tho FrenchSERM1AT (Soclote d'Etude et de Realisation de MaWrtels et d'lnstal-latlons Airoterrestres) unsuccessfully approached aUSfirm.whlchhaddesigned and built Minuteman silos, for technical aid in eventuallyIn metropolitanheagreement would have Includeda feasibility study to be followedconstruction of two prototypein the Bordeaux

WKfrt'nun acii-

nltely now plan to acquire land-baaed IRBM's inime period, but until test firing on the Bordeaux range begins, their ability to meet thiscannot be reliably Judged. They could at any time within thenextyearorsotheir seemingly affirmativewith some sacrifice of money orbut if work continues, they could start to deploy strategic land-basedin hardened sites inevidence strongly Indicates tbat these missiles would be deployed under the Fronch Air Force.

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APPENDIX A

BALLISTIC MISSILE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN FRANCE

All French miasile activity is carried out through Lhe organization Soclete pour les Etudeset RealisationdcsEnginsBalistlques.asonsortium of various French governmental and private organizations. SEREB Is the "systems manager" for all French missiles, as opposed to the USpractlceofystems manager for eachmissllesystem.SEREBdoesnomanufacturlng and has offices tn Paris where it accomplishes feasibility studies,what is to bo done, and delegates the actual work to members of the consortium or to outside contractors as it sees fit.

SEREB Is responsible to the Direction Mlnisterlelle pourrmamenthich is composed In turn ofthe majorDepartment des Englns (DE) for vehicles and the Direction des Recherches et Moyens d'Essai (DRME) for research and testing support. Within the DMA, SEREB falls under the DE, as shown by figurehrough which it receives funding. It Is headedoard of directors with representatives from tho following organizations:

Nord-Aviation Sud-AviaUon

SNECMA (Soclete Nationale d'fitude etdeConstruction deviation) Service des Poudres

ONERA (Office National d* Etudes et de Recherohes Ae*ronautlques)

SEPR (Society d'Etude de la Propulsion par Reaction GAMD (Gcncrale Aeronautique Marcel Dassault) MATRA (Soclete Generate do Mecanique, Aviation et Traction)

CEA'EnergleEREB itself has four major divisions; Design, Tracking, Testing, and Ground Equipment. Realistically speaking, discussions of the activities of the member firms are discussions of the activities of SEREB itsolf, except where otherwise indicated.

Isember of the consortium.

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BET**

The main French firms engaged in missile and space activity are listed in appendix B. Some leading personalities in the weaponssystems program are listed in appendix C.

All French military missileswUluse solidpropellants. Solid pro-pellant development and testing is exclusively the function of Service des Poudres, founded by Napoleon Bonaparte and probably today the most knowledgeable organization in this field in the free worldthe United States. Plants of Service des Poudres have been visited many time by US engineers, usually in connection with NATO Hawk missile production. As earlyolid grains measuring one meter in diameter were being produced and it was noted that facilities were being installed for the manufacture of grains of very largelsoolidpropellant engine abouteet longeet in diameter was observedlant of Nord- Aviation, and the observer was told it was part of the MRBMther reports also indicate that the French, perhaps as earlyecided to workilitary missile of medium orrange.

le

That the French are planning to produce large solid propellant grains is attested by their taking delivery in4arge and modern glass filament case winding machino from the Unitedhe machine was installedud-Aviation plant near the Bordeaux plant of Service des Poudres and has sufficient capacity tonlsfllle graineet in diameter andoeet in

^Jthey planned to wind the cases directly on the grains. This Is an efficient method of forming solid rocket engines but isdangerous and final inspection of case and grain is morePossibly with winding directly on the grain in view, it was specified that the machine be able topound mandrel weight, which reflectsraln4 feet In diameter andeet long.

initial proauonon would be Wound grubs'eereet in length at the modest rateonth beginning inho end use of these grains isbecause they do not appear to "fit" any presently known French rocket or missile.

The physical characteristics of the probable French land-based IRBM cannot to be stated with assurance. As opposed to themissilewhose physical characteristics are rigidly defined by the range required, the weight and size limits of the reentry ve-

hicle, and the size of the submarine'she size of the land-based IRBM may varyairly wide range depending upon the chosen size and weight of its reentry vehicle and the selectedrange. From southern France toange ofautical miles Is required, toautical miles, and toautical miles.

For an IRBM which is planned to be deployed7 orhe French must by now haveeentry vehicle weight based upon the size, yield, and weight of warhead they will have available at tbe time. Reportedly the Comlssariat de rfinergie Atomlque (CEA) isentrifuge for testingoseconehis nosecone weight indicates that the weight of the associated nuclear warhead is of the orderounds. Joel Leaullist deputy, speaking onmatters to the Chamber of Deputies inaid, "The Government is orientedurface-to-surface missileangeautical miles carrying anT."*

The French possibly will have the capability toT warhead inound classhis weight is compatible with theound reentry vehicle, but if such warheads will not be availablehe French may not plan to employ land-based IRBM's in quantityespite their stated intention to do so.

*He went on to say, "It appears that certain technicians doubt the value of this system, the French capability to build lt, and wonder if the CEA will truly be able to deliver the nuclear warheads"

il

But it le rJgluyprobaTryTnaTDy itfYUwhen the lirst suDmarlneare required, the French will have been able to reach theobjectives which will make this missile compatible with the submarine:

The warhead will have been miniaturized to be containedix-foot-long reentry vehicle.

PropeHants will have been Improved In overall performance to the point where reasonable reductions ingrain length can be made without diminution of missile range.

Guidance packages will have become markedly lighter and smaller,*

There are no reasons why the French cannot,8 or so, be testing missiles embodying all these enumerated improvements, even using dummy reentry vehicles If necessary {against the adventwear>

Ml

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The French appear to haveaverygoodcapability in missilehardware. There are several competent firms In the general field but the preponderance of reporting Indicates that tho firm SAGEM (Societe* d'Applications Generates d'^lectricite* et de Mec-anique) is the prime contractor for French Inertia! guidanceSAGEMicensee of the US firms of Nortfarup, Raytheon, General Precision, and Kearfott. SAGEM is producing gyrosdcgreo-per-hour drift rate, which, if not under "laboratory" conditions, is very good and quite acceptable for missile guidance systems. SAGEM also produces computers and openly states In Its brochures that it is designing an inertlal navigation system for French submarines.

Because all French missiles will, at least at the outset, be anti-city weapons, requirements for weapon system accuracy are ofmoderate stringency. Miniaturization of guidance systems installed In larger land-baseds required only in modest degree at present, with ample time71 tosystems fully for use In the smaller submarine missiles. The French will encounter no insurmountable difficulties withguidance systems within their time schedule.

For range testing of ballistic missiles, tho French are presentlyange on the Atlantic coast south of Bordeaux near Biscarosse. By agreement withownrange station will be located on an island of the Azores groupautical miles from Bordeaux. Defense Minister Messmer publicly stated in4 that missile firings will beginventually, he said, the seaward Atlantic range will replace the Colomb Bechar test center in Algeria, There has been no reporting on the progress of construction of the Atlantic range but it may be assumed that work is going ahead. This range Is unsuitable for satellite launchings, as firings must be in an oast to west direction, that is. against the earth's rotation.

The Colomb Bechar test center, under the terms of the Evianmust be vacated In the summerrobably this Isatter of only slight Importance to the French because the range there is too short for test firing of IRBM's. The Colomb Bechar range will, however.probablybe used for testing shorter rangeof all types for some time to come unless politicalforce French withdrawal prior

The French have another seaward range on the he du Levant near

hthey will probably continue to use for short-range missiles and space probes. Recent report-

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Ins indicates that the French are presently carrying out extensive construction work on thehe lie du Levant range lafor test firing DSBM's and the firing of satellite launchers because first stage cases would fail on foreign soil.

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