The Pluton was a French tactical ballistic missile in service from 1974 to 1993. It typically carried a 15 – 25 kiloton yield (kT) nuclear warhead.1
Pluton at a Glance
- Originated from
- Possessed by
- Short-range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
- Transporter-Erector Launcher
- 7.64 m
- 0.65 m
- Launch Weight
- 2,423 kg
- Single Warhead
- Nuclear (15/25 kT) or Conventional Hight Explosive
- Single-stage solid propellant
- 120 km
- In Service
The development of the Pluton began in the early 1960s and the missile became operational in 1974. France pursued an improved version, called the Super Pluton, but dropped this program in 1983 in favor of the Hadès. The French Army gradually phased the system out of service and fully retired it in 1993. 2
The Pluton had a range of 120 km and used an inertial guidance system that had an accuracy of 150 m CEP. With a launch weight of 2,434 kg, it measured 7.64 m in length with a diameter of 0.65 m. It used a single-stage propellant engine and could be equipped with either a 15 or 25 kT yield nuclear warhead. It could also carry a conventional high-explosive warhead.3
The missile proved to be a reliable and readily deployable platform. Its transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) was a modified AMX-30 tank chassis, which allowed it to traverse rough roads and some off-road terrain. A CT-20 drone passed real-time targeting information to a command vehicle and allowed for updated targeting data. 4
The French Army deployed sixty Pluton missiles across five regiments. 5 In 1993, France formally retired the weapon.
- Federation of American Scientists, “Pluton”, 2000, http://fas.org/nuke/guide/france/theater/pluton.htm.
- Duncan Lennox, “Pluton”, Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems (Obsolete Systems), October 12, 2011.
- Federation of American Scientists.
- David Baker, The Rocket: The History and Development of Rocket & Missile Technology, 1978, (Crown Publishers, New York), 198.