The US Navy has successfully launched two Trident II D5 Life Extension (LE) missiles from its submarine USS Nebraska in order to demonstrate the readiness of both the strategic weapon system and the vessel’s crew members.
The Lockheed Martin-developed Trident II missile test, known as Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) 28, was carried out by the navy in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California, US.
Lockheed Martin has recently upgraded and modernised the electronics and avionics subsystems of the Trident II D5 LE configuration, which is expected to help the missiles to continue their service with the US Navy and the British Royal Navy into the 2040s.
The LE programme modified the submarine-launched ballistic weapon, while maintaining the performance of the D5 missile for a significantly lower cost than would be required to design an entirely new missile system.
Lockheed Martin Navy Strategic Programmes vice-president Eric Scherff said: “In addition to certifying the submarine and crew for patrol, the test launch collected valuable data about the performance of the D5 Life Extension missile configuration.
“Instead of warheads, the missiles carried test kits and instrumentation to give us troves of information about flight and subsystem performance.
“The joint government and industry team will use this data to assess performance and to inform maintenance and sustainment plans for the upgraded Trident missile fleet for decades to come.”
The latest DASO-28 test increased the number of successful test launches carried out on the Trident II D5 system to a total of 167.
The Trident II D5 missile is the latest and advanced submarine-launched fleet ballistic missile to be used by the US Navy.
It was originally deployed in 1990 and is currently installed on-board the US Navy’s Ohio-class and the Royal Navy’s Vanguard-class submarines.