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Strange fireball seen in skies above west France was a missile test

Maintaining operational credibility of France's nuclear weapons was necessary given the international environment, said the Ministry of the Armed Forces

The French Ministry of the Armed Forces confirmed that the long white streak was caused by a missile firing test Pic: Direction générale de l'armement

The fireball and long white streak seen in skies above west France on Saturday evening  (November 18) was a missile firing test, the Ministry of the Armed Forces has confirmed, saying there was no danger to the public.

The M51.3 strategic ballistic missile was shot without a nuclear payload at around 19:20.

The missile was launched by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) from their Landes site (Biscarosse) with the shot going as far as the south of the Medoc and landing in the North Atlantic, several hundred kilometres from the coast.

Reassurance from the ministry 

The Ministry of the Armed Forces sought to reassure that this test firing did not present any danger in a press release published on Sunday morning.

"This test was carried out without nuclear payload and in strict compliance with France's international commitments," it said. 

The minister, Sébastien Lecornu praised a “successful" testfire on social network platform X (formerly Twitter). 

Major site for the French military

Created in 1962 to continue the tests carried out on French military bases in Algeria, the Landes Test Centre in Biscarrosse has become a major link in the French military programme where the latest missiles are tested. 

This DGA site is home to facilities that are unique in Europe. In six decades, nearly 9,000 tests have been carried out from the centre of the Landes.

The ministry said that maintaining operational credibility of France's nuclear weapons was necessary given the international environment, in a press release on the government website.

Read also 

What made the mysterious white traces in sky over south-west France?

Cinemas, airports: off-duty police to be able to carry guns in France

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