Plutons Missile base is the former operating base for a now disbanded French Artillery regiment in Eastern France. With a history dating back to the First World War, the regiment was disbanded and absorbed into the larger 1er Regiment Artillerie, based in the Franche Comte region, at the end of the 1990s – a victim of a Cold War that thawed out in the same decade.
Equipped with 3 batteries of 155mm Howitzers, French AMX-13 tanks and a training battery, the regiment also was tasked with operating the Pluton missile, a French missile designed to provide the tactical part of French nuclear deterrence during the Cold War. With a range of 120km and low yield (15-25kT) nuclear warheads, the regiment would be tasked to launch against the Red Army marauding across southern Germany,which fortunately never occurred.
Having a rare day off, a solo trip into the woods of the old base was on the cards and after parking nearby, I set about finding an entry. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the local yobs had created several access point through the 7 foot high fences and barbed wire that remains on-site and so access was fairly simple. That said, it was only on the way out that I realised the front gate was open and so could have saved myself a trip through brambles and barbed wire. D’oh!
Walking around the site, there is sadly very little left to indicate it was a barracks. What the French army didn’t strip, local teenagers and thieves have systematically destroyed much of what was left. Of interest really are the destroyed stolen cars that have been dumped on site, one burned beyond recognition and the other recently dumped. Otherwise, there are just empty garages for the vehicles and barracks for the soldiers, with little to suggest that the site once held nuclear weapons.
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