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L'Inflexible class

Ballistic missile submarine

L'Inflexible class submarine

The L'Inflexible ballistic missile submarine is an intermediate design boat

Entered service 1985
Crew 135 men
Diving depth (operational) 350 m
Diving depth (maximum) 465 m
Sea endurance 3 months
Dimensions and displacement
Length 128.7 m
Beam 10.6 m
Draught 10 m
Surfaced displacement 8 080 tons
Submerged displacement 8 920 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 20 knots
Submerged speed 25 knots
Nuclear reactors 1 x ?
Steam turbines 2 x ?
Missiles 16 x launch tubes for 16 M4 SLBMs (16 M45 SLBMs fitted in L'inflexibe in 2001). SM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles in place of the torpedoes
Torpedoes 4 x 533-mm bow tubes for 18 L5 dual-purpose and F17 anti-ship torpedoes


   Ordered in September 1978, the sole boat of the L'Inflexible class, L'Inflexible is an intermediate design between the Le Redoutable class and the Le Triomphant class. L'Inflexible retains most of the external characteristics of the earlier class, but the internal fittings and sensors differ by taking advantage of the advances made in the propulsion system, electronics and weapons since the Le Redoutable class boats were constructed. The rationale behind this intermediate boat lay in the fact that France required three SSBNs to be continuously available, of which two were to be on patrol. In order to achieve this the French navy had to have six submarines in service, a number one more than the Le Redoutable class total.

   Laid down in March 1980, L'Inflexible achieved operational status in April 1985 and is due to remain in service until at least 2008, or possibly until 2010. Like all French missile submarines, L'Inflexible has two crews, Bleu (blue) and Ambre (amber), to crew the vessel in rotation in order to maximise the time spent on patrol between reactor-refuelling refits. French SSBNs normally undertake patrols of two months duration, with three months as the absolute maximum. All the French SSBNs are based at Ile Longue near Brest and have special protection when transiting to and from the port.

   In April 2001 L'Inflexible conducted a successful test launch of the M45 SLBM, containing components of the new generation M51 missile with which it is planned to equip the Le Triomphant class SSBNs.



L'Inflexible class submarine

L'Inflexible class submarine

L'Inflexible class submarine

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