Both the United States and United Kingdom will deploy the life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missiles.
The U.S. Navy say they have conducted a scheduled, one-missile test flight of an unarmed life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missile from USS Maine, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.
The test took place on the Western Test Range off the coast of San Diego, California.
According to a news release:
“This was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO-30. The primary objective of a DASO is to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN’s strategic weapon system and crew before operational deployment following the submarine’s engineered refueling overhaul.”
This launch marks 177 successful missile launches of the Trident II (D5 & D5LE) strategic weapon system (SWS), say the US Navy. There was a misfire a few years ago, however.
“Today’s test demonstrates the continued reliability of our sea-based nuclear deterrent, which is made possible by our sailors, civilians and industry partners who bring expertise and dedication to the mission that is unmatched by any other country,” said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs.
“These same teams are now developing the next generation of the Trident strategic weapon system, which will extend our sea-based deterrent for the next 40 years.”
The Trident II (D5) missiles recently underwent a life extension program to address potential impacts from aging and obsolescence. The life-extended missiles – Trident II (D5LE) – are now being deployed to the Fleet and will serve for the remaining service life of U.S Ohio-class and United Kingdom Vanguard class SSBNs, and as the initial loadout for the U.S. Columbia-class and U.K. Dreadnought-class SSBNs.
According to a US Navy statement:
“Flight test missiles are not armed. Safety of the public and the crew conducting the mission is paramount. Today’s launch was conducted from sea, the missile flew over the sea, and landed in the sea. At no time did the missile fly over land.
The missile test was not conducted in response to any ongoing world events or as a demonstration of power. Test launches – including DASOs – are scheduled years in advance.”