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The Hadès system was a short-range ballistic tactical nuclear weapon system designed by France as a last warning before use of strategic nuclear weapons, in the perspective of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. It was designed from July 1984 as a replacement for the tactical road-mobile Pluton missile.
The 120 intended Hadès missiles were to be launched from wheeled trailers, each carrying two missiles in containers that acted as launch systems. The original design was a range of 250 km, which was later increased to 480 km. The missile was carried horizontally, erected by the truck itself, and launched immediately. The light weight of the missile made it easy to deploy even on difficult zones, and its great range made it usable for limited stategic aims, though not to destroy Soviet cities and missile silos.
The navigation system was an inertial platform which could be programmed to execute evasive maneuvers before hitting the target. The version of the Hadès missile designed to hit solid underground targets also had a final guidance system which used a GPS-based digital system, resulting in a Circular Error Probable of only 5 m. "Regular" versions are likely to have had a CEP of less than 100 meters.
The program began in 1984 to replace the aging Pluton system, and testing began in 1988. In 1991, due to the changing situation in Europe and to the German opposition to the program (which was openly designed to strike East Germany), restrictions were decided upon so as not to deploy the system and limit the complement to 15 mobile launching platforms and 30 missiles. The system entered service in 1992, as a resource kept in storage in case of a serious national threat, in Lunéville.
In 1996, France switched from a deterrence force based on three components (sea-based, ground-based and air-based) to a completely sea-based strategic deterrence, complemented by air-based tactical assets. Consecutively, the Hadès system was cancelled and the last missile was dismantled on the 23rd of June 1997.
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