Watch the successful firing of a Trident ballistic missile by HMS Vigilant during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean in 2012.
HMS Vigilant is one of four Vanguard Class submarines which maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent and this firing, the first in three years, confirms the credibility of the deterrent.
The Vanguard submarines will be replaced from 2028 by the Successor which is currently being designed by British companies.
The Trident missile is a submarine-launched ballistic missile equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles.
Originally developed by Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation, the missile is armed with thermonuclear warheads and is launched from nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The missiles are carried by fourteen US Navy Ohio-class submarines, with US warheads, and four Royal Navy Vanguard-class submarines, with British warheads.
The Vanguard class is a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in service with the Royal Navy.
Each submarine is armed with up to 16 UGM-133 Trident II missiles.
The class was introduced in 1994 as part of the Trident nuclear programme. The class includes four boats: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance. All four subs are based at HM Naval Base Clyde near Glasgow.
The missile is named after the mythological trident of Neptune.