French President Emmanuel Macron has launched the first and France’s latest nuclear-powered “Barracuda” class submarine, a 9 billion euro ($10.13 billion) stealth vessel program on Friday.

Its main motive is to maintain France’s naval presence for decades to come, according to the Paris government.

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

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

France government has expected the Barracuda class to remain in service until at least 2060.