The 14,335-ton (submerged displacement) Le Temeaire, second of a planned quartet of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines for the French Navy, was commissioned on 23 December 1999 to replace the 19-year-old Le Tonnant, which was retired last September. The class-name boat, Le Triomphant, entered service in September 1996, and the third sister, Le Vigilant, is to launch in March 2002 and commission in 2004. The as-yet unordered fourth unit is to enter service in 2008 to complete the replacement of the 8,913-ton Le Redoutable-class strategic missile submarines. The Le Triomphant and Le Temeraire each carry 16 three-stage M45 ballistic missiles, each missile with six TN-75 independently targeted warheads and a nominal range of 5,000 km. The unnamed fourth unit will be the first to carry the M51 missile, with a range of 7,000 km and 10-12 warheads, and the M51 eventually will be backfitted into the earlier boats.
By A.D. Baker III, Editor, Combat Fleets of the World