The decision taken by General de Gaulle, to start in 1962 the program " COELACANTH ", equipped France with nuclear submarines launchers [SNLE sous-marins nucléaires lanceurs d’engins ], major elements of nuclear dissuasion. It was the birth of the Strategic Oceanic Force (FOST - Force Océanique Stratégique ). A total of six submarines of the Redoutable class were built at Cherbourg Naval Dockyard - part of the major French Naval builder DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) from 1967 to 1982. S609 Le Redoutable was launched on 29 March 1967, in the presence of General de Gaulle. It was not until 1971 when she became operational. She was decommissioned in December of 1991.
With the de-commisioning of Le Redoutable in December 1991, the remaining submarines of this class are known as L'Inflexible class SNLE M4. Four submarines underwent a two and a half year modernization overhaul in the 1980s. All were back-fitted with the M4 missile and other equipment to the same standard as L'Inflexible. Improved streamlining of M4 conversion submarines changed the silhouette so that they resemble L'Inflexible. The first operational launch of the M4 was by Le Tonnant on 15 September 1987 in the Atlantic. Other work included an improved reactor core, noise reduction efforts, and updating the sonar. Le Tonnant was recommissioned 15 October 1987; L'Indomptable on 15 June 1989; Le Terrible on 7 June 1990; and Le Foudroyant 15 February 1993.
Despite the expense of these upgrades, Le Terrible was de-commissioned in July 1996, and Le Foudroyant was de-commissioned in February 1998.
|Displacement, tons||8080 surfaced; 8920 dived|
|LENGTH||422.1 (128.7 meters)|
|BEAM||34.8 (10.6 meters)|
|DRAUGHT||32.8 (10 meters)|
|Main machinery|| |
|Speed, knots||25 dived; 20 surfaced|
|Range, miles||5000 at 4 kts on auxiliary propulsion only|
|Diving depth||250 m (820 ft) approx.|
|Complement||114 (14 officers) (2 crews)|
|Missiles||SLBM: 16 Aerospatiale M4; three stage solid fuel rockets; inertial guidance to 5300 km (2860 nm); thermonuclear warhead with 6 MRV each of 150 kT.|
|SSM||Aerospatiale SM 39 Exocet; launched from 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes; inertial cruise; active radar homing to 50 km (27 nm) at 0.9 Mach; warhead 165 kg (to be carried in all in due course).|
|Torpedoes|| 4 - 21 in (533 mm) tubes. total
of 18 torpedoes and SSM carried in a mixed load.|
|Countermeasures||ESM: Thomson-CSF ARUR 13/DR 3000U; intercept.|
|Radars||Navigation: Thomson-CSF DRUA 33; I band.|
|S-610||Le Foudroyant||Cherbourg||12 Dec 1969||4 Dec 1971||6 June 1974||Feb 1998|
|S-611||Le Redoutable||Cherbourg||29 Mar 1967||1971||Dec 1991|
|S-612||Le terrible||Cherbourg||24 June 1967||12 Dec 1969||1 Jan 1973||Jul 1996|
|S-613||L'Indomptable||Cherbourg||4 Dec 1971||17 Sep 1974||23 Dec 1976||Dec 2003|
|S-614||Le Tonnant||Cherbourg||19 Oct 1974||17 Sep 1977||3 May 1980||Sep 1999|
|S-615||L'Inflexible||Cherbourg||21 Mar 1980||23 June 1982||1 Apr 1985||Jul 2006|