Safran (France) is part of a joint venture to build M51 submarine-launched nuclear missiles for the French navy, which each deliver multiple warheads. Its subsidiaries Snecma and Sagem provide the propulsion and navigation systems for these missiles.

Company profile

Safran, based in France, is a high-tech group with three key business areas: aerospace, defence and security. 1 The French government holds an 18% stake in the company. 2

In 2014, Safran reported revenues of € 15.0 billion, resulting in an operating income of € 1.4 billion and a net loss of € 126 million. 3

Contact information

Twitter: @SAFRAN

2, boulevard du Général Martial Valin
CS 51618
75724 Paris Cedex 15
+33 (0)1 40 60 80 80

Nuclear weapons

Safran, together with Airbus (formerly EADS), Thales and others, obtained an estimated € 3 billion contract in December 2004 to build the M51 nuclear missile for the new French submarines. Airbus’ subsidiary Astrium is the lead contractor, whereas Safran (through its subsidiaries Herakles and Snecma), Thales, and DCNS were selected as the main subcontractors. 4

The M51 features multiple warheads, with far greater payload mass, volume and range than the M45. The nuclear submarine Le Terrible has been equipped with the M51 since late 2010. The missile will also enter operational service aboard the other new-generation submarines, Triomphant and Téméraire, after retrofit. A second version of the missile will be commissioned from 2015. 5

Safran’s subsidiary Snecma is the prime contractor for the propulsion system of the M51 missile project, producing all inert components in the rocket motors. Sagem, another subsidiary of Safran, developed the navigation systems for the M51, to improve the accuracy of the missile. 6 SNPE Matériaux Energétiques (SME), a subsidiary of state-owned SNPE which was merged into Safran’s subsidiary Herakles together with Snecma Propulsion Solide (SPS) in 2011, made the rocket propellant that powers the nuclear ballistic missile. 7 As a prime propulsion contractor for the M45 and M51 ballistic missiles, Herakles remains involved in maintenance and future upgrades to this weapon system. 8


The following financial institutions have made approximately USD 13,905 million available to this producer since January 2012.

  • ABP (Netherlands)
  • Affiliated Managers Group (United States)
  • Allianz (Germany)
  • American Equity Investment Life Holding (United States)
  • Ameriprise Financial (United States)
  • Aviva (United Kingdom)
  • Bank of America (United States)
  • Bank of New York Mellon (United States)
  • BlackRock (United States)
  • BNP Paribas (France)
  • BPCE Group (France)
  • Capital Group (United States)
  • Citigroup (United States)
  • Commerzbank (Germany)
  • Country Life Insurance Company (United States)
  • Crédit Agricole (France)
  • Crédit Mutuel CIC Group (France)
  • Cuna Mutual Group (United States)

  • Deutsche Bank (Germany)
  • Fidelity Investments (United States)
  • Franklin Resources (United States)
  • Great West Lifeco (Canada)
  • Guggenheim Capital (United States)
  • HSBC (United Kingdom)
  • ING Group (Netherlands)
  • Legg Mason (United States)
  • Macquarie Group (Australia)
  • MassMutual Financial (United States)
  • MetLife (United States)
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (Japan)
  • Modern Woodmen of America (United States)
  • Morgan Stanley (United States)
  • New York Life Insurance Company (United States)
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance (United States)
  • Oddo Group (France)

  • Pacific Mutual (United States)
  • Principal Financial Group (United States)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom)
  • Santander (Spain)
  • Sentinel Asset Management (United States)
  • Société Générale (France)
  • Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance (United States)
  • Sun Life Financial (Canada)
  • TIAA-CREF (United States)
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank (Canada)
  • UBS (Switzerland)
  • Unum Group (United States)
  • USAA Investment Management Company (United States)
  • Vanguard (United States)
  • Voya Financial (United States)
  • Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society (United States)

This page was last updated 29 October 2015.


  1. Safran, “Safran at a glance”, Website Safran ( ), viewed May 2015.
  2. Safran, “Capital structure and voting rights”, Website Safran, 5 March 2015 (
  3. Safran, “Consolidated balance sheet and income statement 2014”, Safran, 26 March 2014.
  4. EADS, “Press release: Contract for Production of the M51 Weapon System”, News release EADS, 23 December 2004 (;
    Tran, P., “Rocket Rendezvous? France Seeks To Merge Engine, Fuel Suppliers”, Defense News, 28 June 2010 (;
    Herakles, “History”, Website Herakles (, viewed May 2015.
  5. Airbus Defense & Space, “M51”, Website Airbus Defense & Space (, viewed July 2015.
  6. Safran Magazine, “M51, the key to French deterrence”, Safran Magazine, November 2007..
  7. Tran, P., “Rocket Rendezvous? France Seeks To Merge Engine, Fuel Suppliers”, Defense News, 28 June 2010 (
  8. Herakles, “Our core business: Propulsion”, Website Herakles (, viewed June 2015.


In some nuclear-armed states – in particular the United States, the United Kingdom and France – private companies are hired by governments to carry out work on maintaining and modernising nuclear arsenals. This report looks at companies that are providing the necessary components to develop, test, maintain and modernise nuclear weapons.The contracts these companies have with nuclear armed countries are for materials and services to keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals. The companies described are substantially involved in the nuclear weapons programmes of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, or India and are themselves based in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In other nuclear-armed countries –Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea – the maintenance and modernization of nuclear forces is carried out primarily or exclusively by government agencies.


The nuclear weapon producers identified were selected on the basis of a predetermined set of criteria.
– Information on investments is publicly available.
– The company is directly involved in the development, testing, production, maintenance or trade of nuclear weapons related technology, parts, products or services.
– The company’s involvement is related to warheads, or to delivery systems such as missiles, that are specifically developed for nuclear tasks. This includes technology that is designed for ‘dual use’ (military and civilian) but excludes technology that is not designed for, but can be used in nuclear warfare. It does not include delivery platforms such as bombers and submarines.

State owned or controlled nuclear industries are outside the scope of this research, as are companies not publicly listed. Our research uncovered a number of Universities involved in nuclear weapons programmes, but these are also outside the scope of the report.

The list of nuclear weapon producers investigated was compiled through a wide variety of sources, including financial institution exclusion lists, civil society reports, media reports, etc. Additional details on the contracts and components can be found in the Annex. We welcome information at any time about possible nuclear weapons producing companies to investigate.