Macron to unveil France's nuclear-powered 'Barracuda' submarine

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Macron to unveil France's nuclear-powered 'Barracuda' submarine

The French Navy vessel called "Suffren", first of the nuclear Barracuda class attack submarines, leaves the workshops of its construction at the Naval Group site in Cherbourg

PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron will unveil on Friday France's latest nuclear-powered 'Barracuda' class submarine, a 9 billion euro ($10.13 billion) stealth vessel programme Paris says is key to maintaining its naval presence for decades to come.

The French government has placed an order for six of the 5,000-tonne submarines made by Naval Group, in which defence company Thales has a 35 percent stake.

The French navy expects to take delivery of the first, named "Suffren", for sea trials in 2020 and the remainder will enter service over the following decade, replacing France's ageing 'Ruby' class submarines.

"There is an imperative need for us to be present in conflict zones ... and to be able to pose a threat when necessary," General Francois Lecointre, Chief of the Defence Staff, told CNews on Thursday.

France expects the Barracuda class to remain in service until at least 2060. The Suffren will be presented in her dry dock in Cherbourg.

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(Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Gareth Jones)