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.”

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maurice10
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maurice10

I wonder if the Trident engineers are looking at a hypersonic version of this warhead, or would it require a major redesign of the launch tubes? Could the second or third UK Dreadnought get a hypersonic missile?

Meirion X
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Meirion X

Nuclear warheads are hypersonic, when reentering the Stratosphere in the Terminal Phase!

DaveyB
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DaveyB

What do you mean by hyper-sonic? The Tridents MIRVs re-enter the atmosphere approaching Mach 24. Is this not hyper-sonic enough, or are you referring to the hyper-sonic glider fitted to a ballistic missile?

Meirion X
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Meirion X

That is why it is extremity difficult to destroy them in mid flight.

maurice10
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maurice10

Thanks for putting me right folks, I didn’t realise the missile could achieve Mach24 on re-entry. However, is the hype-sonic glider the way forward?

Martin
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Martin

Problem with the hyper sonic glide vehicle is it takes up more space so less warheads and once lasers come out manoeuvres won’t mean shit. Stealth is probably a better way to protect MRIV’s in the Long run. Russian and China need such weapons because the west is much closer to being able to counter current generations of ICBM’s but neither has much that’s going to trouble a D5 much less and E6 when it comes out.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

SDI / Star Wars would have been a doddle for the US at those speeds!

Reaper
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Reaper

‘wE NeEd A BiLlIon 0F tHeSe t0 gO oN mY FaNTaSY fl33T oV 100 HyP0 SOnik DrEadNUTS ‘

-ukdf commenter aged 67 with zero experience in defence.

T.S
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You joke, but I can quite easily see a time In the future where frigates and destroyers carry short to medium range low yield ballistic missiles in order to over come the level of defences on modern vessels and take out carriers before they get near their operational zone.

Cam
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Cam

Na we got rid of all our other nuclear weapons hard to see them spend on more weapons and designing them ect,

But i was sure a tomahawk cruise misssile could have a nuclear warhead tacked. Would be great having Astutes with that option, too costly I imagine, and we don’t fire nukes in conventional terms these days only the last ditch F U

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Hi Cam. The USAF had the ALCM in the Cold War, of course a TLAM could be nuclear if it was desired. But no need. This subject has been done to death here many times with suggestions of a nuclear cruise replacing Trident, because it is cheaper. Cruise missiles in no way compensate for an SLBM, and are vulnerable to interception. The Americans, Russia, and until recently France had their range of nuclear options, their “TRIAD.” There is no need for the UK to have such, nor the money for them as you say. And apart from Hiroshima and Nagasaki,… Read more »

Watcherzero
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Watcherzero

The engineer in me is quietly yelling into my fist about the statistical value of a reliability validation programme utilising a single test.