France and the Bomb

This new work examines the French nuclear deterrent in detail, an often overlooked subject, yet of vital importance to European security.

A new work is published examining the French nuclear deterrent written by one of the country’s leading military experts.

The defence analyst and military historian Philippe Wodka-Gallien has published a new book entitled La Dissuasion Nucléaire Française en Action (The French Nuclear Deterrent in Action). It is a must for anyone with interest in nuclear weapons, and for those with a specific interest in the French nuclear deterrent.

France’s nuclear force, and its history, is less well documented that that of the United States, and to a lesser extent that of the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union/Russia. Nonetheless France remains one of the four nuclear powers on the European continent alongside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation which has US-supplied B-61 series nuclear weapons at its disposal, Russia and the UK.

This year will mark 60 years since France performed its first test of an atomic weapon on 13 February 1960 at Hammoudia in the Sahara Desert, central Algeria. Since then France has developed nuclear force which today is thought to include circa 300 nuclear warheads equipping MBDA ASMP-A air-to-surface missiles deployable by Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) and Aeronavale (French Naval Aviation) Dassault Rafale-A/B/M combat aircraft and Airbus Defence and Space M45/M51 submarine launched ballistic missiles deployed by the Marine Nationale (French Navy) ‘Triomphant’ class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

Mr. Wodka-Gallien has published several works examining the French nuclear deterrent including the Dictionnaire de la Dissuasion (Dictionary of Deterrence) and the Essai Nucléaire – La Force de Frappe Française au XXIe Siècle: Défis, Ambitions et Stratégie (Nuclear Test – The French Strike Force in the 21st Century: Challenges, Ambitions and Strategy).

by Dr. Thomas Withington