Thales (France) is part of a joint venture to build the M51 submarine-launched nuclear missiles for the French navy.

Company profile

Company profile

Thales, based in France, provides information systems for the military and security, aerospace and transportation markets.[a]

In the financial year ending 31 December 2015, Thales generated revenues of € 14.1 billion, resulting in an operating income of € 1.1 billion and a net income of € 765.1 million.[b]

Contact Information

Twitter: @ThalesGroup

Thales Corporate Communications
Tour Carpe Diem
31 Place des Corolles – CS 20001
+33 (0)

Nuclear weapons

Thales, together with Airbus (formerly EADS), Safran, SNPE (part of Safran-subsidiary Herakles) and DCNS, obtained a ten-year contract in December 2004 to build the new M51 nuclear missile for the new French submarines, with an estimated value of € 3 billion. Airbus subsidiary Astrium is the lead contractor, whereas Safran, SNPE, DCNS and Thales are the main subcontractors.[i] Thales holds a 35%-stake in DCNS, making it the second largest shareholder after the French government (62.5%).[ii]

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.[iii]

DCNS is significantly involved in the modernization of the nuclear ballistic missile submarines of the French Navy to fit the latest standard nuclear missile M51.3, which is being developed by Airbus.[iv]


The following financial institutions have made approximately US$ 5,998 million available to this producer since January 2013.

  • Alken Asset Management
  • ANZ
  • Barclays
  • Bestinver
  • BlackRock
  • BNP Paribas
  • BPCE Group
  • Citigroup
  • Commerzbank
  • Crédit Agricole

  • Crédit Mutuel CIC Group
  • Deutsche Bank
  • HSBC
  • International Value Advisors
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial
  • National Bank of Abu Dhabi
  • Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global
  • Royal Bank of Scotland

  • Santander
  • Société Générale
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Financial
  • Thales SA Employees Stock Ownership Plan
  • UniCredit
  • Vanguard

This page was last updated 29 November 2016.


[a]       Thales, “At a glance”, Website Thales (, viewed June 2016.

[b]      Thales, “Thales Registration document – Annual financial report 2015 ”, Thales, March 2016.

[i]       Thales, “Thales Registration document – Annual financial report 2013 ”, Thales, February 2014;
EADS, “Press release: Contract for Production of the M51 Weapon System”, Website Airbus Group (, 23 December 2004.

[ii]      DCNS Group, “Governance”, Website DCNS Group (, viewed June 2016.

[iii]      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 (

[iv]     Cabirol, M., “Le classement des entreprises qui ont profité des milliards de la défense en 2014”, Website La Tribune, 10 February 2015 (;
Airbus Defence & Space, “29 aircraft and 14 satellites ordered – A historic year for space activities with Ariane 6 up and running and the creation of Airbus Safran Launchers”, News release Airbus Defence & Space, 21 January 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.