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SOURCE: AFP

France on Wednesday carried out its first test firing of an updated nuclear-capable missile designed to be launched by a Rafale fighter jet, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said. The ASMPA-R missile was fired without a warhead by a plane in an exercise “above national territory… at the end of a flight representing a nuclear air raid,” Lecornu said in a statement.

In a separate post on X, he congratulated “all the forces, (defence) ministry teams and industrial partners involved” in a “long-planned” operation.

The French nuclear missile test came a day after Russia began nuclear drills in its Southern Military District, which borders Ukraine and includes parts of the country Moscow claims to have annexed.

Lecornu’s statement said the French drill aimed to uphold “the credibility of the airborne nuclear element of deterrence” alongside France’s submarine-launched weapons.

France plans to spend around 13 percent of its military budget over the coming years on its independent nuclear capability, including upgrading to next-generation air-launched missiles by 2035.