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.[a] The French government holds a 15.4% stake in the company.[b]

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]

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 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


The following financial institutions have made approximately US$ 14,118 million available to this producer since January 2013.

  • Affiliated Managers Group
  • Allianz
  • American Equity Investment Life Holding
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Aviva
  • Bank of America
  • Barclays
  • BlackRock
  • BNP Paribas
  • BPCE Group
  • Capital Group
  • Citigroup
  • Commerzbank
  • Crédit Agricole
  • Crédit Mutuel CIC Group
  • Cuna Mutual Group

  • Deutsche Bank
  • Guggenheim Capital
  • HSBC
  • Legg Mason
  • Macquarie Group
  • MassMutual Financial
  • MetLife
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial
  • Modern Woodmen of America
  • Morgan Stanley
  • National Life Group
  • New York Life Insurance
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
  • Pacific Mutual
  • Power Financial Corporation

  • Principal Financial Group
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander
  • Société Générale
  • Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Financial
  • Sun Life Financial
  • UBS
  • USAA Investment Management Company
  • Vanguard
  • Voya Financial
  • WoodmenLife

This page was last updated 29 November 2016.


[a]       Safran, “Safran at a glance”, Website Safran ( ), viewed June 2016.

[b]      Safran, “Capital structure and voting rights”, Website Safran, 30 March 2016 (

[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 (;
Tran, P., “Rocket Rendezvous? France Seeks To Merge Engine, Fuel Suppliers”, Defense News, 28 June 2010 (;
Herakles, “Strategic propulsion, a center of excellence at Herakles”, Website Herakles (, viewed June 2016;
Herakles, “Specialist in missile propulsion”, Website Herakles (, 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 (, 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 (

[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.


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.