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.
In the financial year ending 31 December 2015, Safran reported revenues of € 18.1 billion, resulting in an operating income of € 2.1 billion and a net loss of € 424.0 million.[c]
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Safran, together with Airbus (formerly EADS), Thales and others, obtained an estimated € 3 billion ten-year 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.[i]
The M51 features multiple warheads, with far greater payload mass and volume, than the M45. It also offers a longer range, enabling submarines to expand their patrol zones. The first nuclear submarine to be equipped with the M51 was Le Terrible in 2010, followed by the other new-generation submarines, Le Vigilant, delivered in 2013, Triomphant, delivered in 2015, and Le Téméraire, for which the overhaul started in 2016.[ii]
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.[iii] SNPE Matériaux Energétiques (SME), a subsidiary of SNPE that 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.[iv] As a prime propulsion contractor for the M45 and M51 ballistic
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This page was last updated 29 November 2016.
[a] Safran, “Safran at a glance”, Website Safran (www.safran-group.com/group-0# ), viewed June 2016.
[b] Safran, “Capital structure and voting rights”, Website Safran, 30 March 2016 (www.safran-group.com/capital-structure-and-voting-rights/Capital%20shareholding%20structure%20and%20voting%20rights).
[c] Safran, “Consolidated balance sheet and income statement 2015”, Safran, February 2016.
[i] EADS, “Press release: Contract for Production of the M51 Weapon System”, News release EADS, 23 December 2004 (www.defense-aerospace.com/article-view/release/51198/eads-details-m51-slbm-contract-%28jan.-6%29.html);
Tran, P., “Rocket Rendezvous? France Seeks To Merge Engine, Fuel Suppliers”, Defense News, 28 June 2010 (www.defensenews.com/print/article/20100628/DEFFEAT02/6280325/Rocket-Rendezvous);
Herakles, “Strategic propulsion, a center of excellence at Herakles”, Website Herakles (www.herakles.com/defense/strategic-propulsion-center-excellence-herakles), viewed June 2016;
Herakles, “Specialist in missile propulsion”, Website Herakles (www.herakles.com/specialist-missile-propulsion), viewed June 2016.
[ii] Marine Nationale, “Modernisation de la force océanique stratégique : le SNLE Le Triomphant adapté au M51”, Website Ministère de la Défense, 13 August 2015 (www.defense.gouv.fr/marine/actu-marine/modernisation-de-la-force-oceanique-strategique-le-snle-le-triomphant-adapte-au-m51), viewed June 2016;
Gautier, J., Pintat, X. & Reiner, D., “Projet de loi de finances pour 2015 : Défense : équipement des forces”, Sénat (France), 20 November 2014 (www.senat.fr/rap/a14-110-8/a14-110-81.pdf).
[iii] Safran Magazine, “M51, the key to French deterrence”, Safran Magazine, November 2007.
[iv] European Commission, “Case No Comp/M.6104 – Safran / SNPE Materiaux Energetiques / Regulus – Notification of 23/02/2011 pursuant to Article 4 of Council Regulation No 139/20041”, European Commision, 30 March 2011;
Tran, P., “Rocket Rendezvous? France Seeks To Merge Engine, Fuel Suppliers”, Defense News, 28 June 2010.