When it comes to missiles, France’s anti-ship Exocet is one of the most notorious. And this is for good reason.
The Falklands War put this ship-killer on the map after it sank the destroyer HMS Sheffield and the Atlantic Conveyor. In 1987, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Stark (FFG 31) survived two Exocet hits from an Iraqi plane.
But while the Exocet is easily France’s most recognizable missile, it is not the most deadly. That honor belongs to a missile known as the M51, which is carried aboard the four Le Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines serving in the French Navy.
According to Deagel.com, the M51 has a range of at least 6,000 kilometers and can carry up to 14 TN-75 warheads — although the usual loadout for the M51 is six warheads in multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
According to the Nuclear Weapons Archive, the TN-75 has a yield of 100 kilotons. Using the NUKEMAP from NuclearSecrecy.org, is a TN-75 were detonated 500 feet over the La Brea tar pits, it would kill nearly 150,000 people and injure just under 495,000.
The fireball would wipe out the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, while the blast wave would destroy the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Cedars Sinai Medical Center, one of the most well-known hospitals in the country, would be seriously damaged. That’s just from one warhead. The other five would likely impact other parts of Los Angeles.
In short, a city the size of LA could be wiped off the map by the pattern of French warheads. Each of France’s Le Triomphant-class submarines can carry 16 M51s.
Find out more about this missile in the video below.