US Navy flight tests Trident II D5LE missiles from USS Wyoming
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US Navy flight tests Trident II D5LE missiles from USS Wyoming

20 Sep 2021 (Last Updated September 20th, 2021 12:11)

The latest Trident II (D5 & D5LE) weapon system launch marks 184 successful missile test flights.

US Navy flight tests Trident II D5LE missiles from USS Wyoming
An unarmed Trident II D5LE missile launches from USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) off the coast of Cape Canaveral in Florida. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Holmes.

The US Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) has launched an unarmed Trident II life-extension (D5LE) missile off the coast of Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The planned, two-missile test flight was conducted as part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO-31) on 17 September.

DASO aims to assess and show the readiness of SSBN’s Strategic Weapon System (SWS) prior to operational deployment after the completion of the submarine’s engineered refuelling overhaul.

US Strategic Command Global Operations director rear admiral Thomas Ishee said: “The DASO test, and others like these, underscore our readiness and capability for 21st century strategic deterrence.

“SSBN crews undergo constant training and regularly planned testing to ensure the weapons systems remain ready and reliable.

“The sailors and support element who make up the silent service prove every day they are capable and prepared to protect America and its allies.”

According to the US Navy, the latest launch marks 184 successful missile test flights of the Trident II (D5 & D5LE) strategic weapon system.

The Lockheed Martin Space Systems-manufactured Trident II (D5) missile recently underwent a life extension programme to overcome ageing and obsolescence.

The Trident II (D5LE) missiles are being deployed to the fleet to serve the US Ohio-class and the UK Vanguard-class SSBNs.

The missiles will also serve as the initial load-out for the US Columbia-class and the UK Dreadnought-class SSBNs.

US Navy Strategic Systems Programs director vice-admiral Johnny Wolfe said: “Today’s [17 Sept] test demonstrates the unmatched reliability of our sea-based nuclear deterrent, which is made possible by a dedicated team of military, civilian and industry partners who bring expertise and dedication to the mission that is truly extraordinary.”

In February last year, another Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, the USS Maine (SSBN-741), launched an unarmed Trident II D5LE missile.