The U.S. Navy conducted a scheduled one-missile test flight of an unarmed life-extended Trident II D5LE submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from USS Maine (SSBN-741), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, on the Western Test Range off the coast of San Diego, California, on Feb. 16.
This test follows USS Maine’s Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (designated DASO-30) conducted Feb. 12, also on the Western Test Range.
The scheduled test validated performance expectations of the life-extended Trident II (D5LE) Strategic Weapon System (SWS), and gathered additional data on the SWS’ reliability, accuracy, and performance factors. This launch marks 178 successful missile launches of the Trident II (D5 &D5LE) strategic weapon system.
Test launches are conducted on a recurring basis to evaluate and ensure the continued reliability and accuracy of the strategic weapon system. Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) is the Navy command that provides cradle-to-grave lifecycle support for the Navy’s Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Trident II (D5LE) strategic weapon system.
SLBMs are the sea-based leg of the nation’s strategic nuclear deterrent Triad that also includes the U.S. Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and nuclear-capable bombers. Each part of the Triad provides unique capabilities and advantages.
The sea-based leg makes up the majority approximately 70 percent of the U.S.’s deployed strategic nuclear deterrent Triad.
UGM-133A Trident II SLBM
UGM-133A Trident II, or Trident D5, is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California, and deployed with the American and British navies.
The missile has a maximum operational range of over 7,500 miles (12,000 km) and a CEP of 90 meters (the exact values are classified). The missile’s MK 6 Astro-inertial guidance navigation system is also able to receive GPS (Global Positioning System) updates.
The missiles deployed on U.S. submarines can be equipped with a Mark 5 MIRV warhead that can carry up to 8 W88 (475 kt) warheads, or a Mark 4 MIRV that can also carry 14 W76 (100 kt) warheads.
Trident II missiles are carried by 14 U.S. Navy Ohio-class and four UK Royal Navy Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), with 24 missiles on each Ohio class and 16 missiles on each Vanguard class.
The D5 is the sixth in a series of missile generations deployed since the sea-based deterrent program began 60 years ago. The Trident II D5LE (life-extension) version will remain in service until 2042.