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The S-3 was an intermediate range, silo-based, solid propellant, single warhead ballistic missile. In September 1996, France shut down its 18 land-based nuclear missiles. It was expected to take two years to dismantle the missiles and their concrete silos.

The French designation for the S-3 is Type S-3D/TN-61. In 1973 a program was initiated to develop the second generation SSBS (Sol-Sol-Balistique-Strategique) system, the S-3, entailing the renovation of the first two groups of S-2 silos and replacing the missiles with the S-3 model. Development of the S-3 was completed in 1980, and it was initially planned that S-3 might be replaced by a land-based version of the M-5 missile by about 2005. By 1993 it was decided that there would be no replacement system, though plans announced in 1994 indicated that a land-based version of the M-4 missile might replace the S-3 missiles on the Plateau d'Albion by 2005.

The S-3 is a two stage, solid propellant, intermediate range missile with a length of 13.8 m, a base diameter of 1.5 m and a launch weight of 25800 kg. It has a range of around 3500 km. S-3 has the same first stage as the S-2 with a solid propellant weight of 16940 kg and a burn time of 72 seconds, with a second stage, the P-6, originally developed for the MSBS (Mer-Sol-Balistique-Strategique) M-20 missile, with a solid propellant weight of 6015 kg and a burn time of 58 seconds. An advanced re-entry system is reported to be incorporated in the system. The re-entry system is also said to be radiation hardened and to contain a new system of penetration aids to improve defence penetration. The S-3 has a single nuclear warhead, TN61, believed to have a yield of 1.2 MT and carried within a payload of 1000 kg.

Launch facilities include the silo in which the missile is maintained in operational readiness, and an annexe housing the automatic launching equipment and the support services. Launch facilities are hardened against nuclear effects.

Deployment of the S-3 began in 1980. The first group of nine missiles and their associated silo installations on the Plateau d'Albion were officially inaugurated in May 1980, and both groups of nine silos were operational by the end of 1982 making a total deployment of 18 missiles. Reports indicate that about 40 S-3 missiles were manufactured with a further 13 test missiles.


prime contractor Aerospatiale, Space and Strategic Systems Division, Les Mureaux
Length 13.8 m
Body diameter 1.5 m
Launch weight 25800 kg
Payload Single warhead 1000 kg
Warhead 1.2 MT nuclear
Guidance Inertial
Propulsion 2 stage solid propellant
Range 3500 km
Accuracy n/k

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