US Navy tests Trident II D5LE missile from USS Maine

13 February 2020 (Last Updated February 13th, 2020 12:41)

The US Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine (SSBN-741) has launched an unarmed Trident II life-extension (D5LE) missile off the coast of San Diego, California.

US Navy tests Trident II D5LE missile from USS Maine
The latest launch marks the 177th successful launch of the Trident II (D5 & D5LE) strategic weapon system (SWS). Credit: US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley/Released.

The US Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine (SSBN-741) has launched an unarmed Trident II life-extension (D5LE) missile off the coast of San Diego, California.

The missile is manufactured by Lockheed Martin Space Systems and has undergone a life-extension programme.

A test flight of the missile was conducted as part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) called DASO-30.

DASO aims to assess and show the crew and the SSBN’s strategic weapon system’s readiness prior to deployment into operational service. The missile flight test was carried out after the submarine’s engineered refuelling overhaul.

US Navy research, development and acquisition department assistant secretary James F Geurts said: “The professional performance by the crew of the USS Maine today demonstrated they are ready to stand the watch for our nation’s strategic deterrence mission.

“They, and the acquisition and sustainment teams that support them, showed the teamwork, commitment, and attention to detail needed to continue to provide the undersea strategic deterrence for our nation, just as the navy has done uninterrupted for the last 60 years.”

The latest launch marks the 177th successful launch of the accurate and reliable ballistic missile, the Trident II (D5 & D5LE) strategic weapon system (SWS).

US Navy Strategic Systems Programmes director vice-admiral Johnny R Wolfe said: “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.

“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 have undergone life-extension, now called Trident II (D5LE), to overcome ageing and obsolescence.

These missiles are deployed on the US Ohio-class and the British Vanguard-class SSBNs.

The US Columbia-class and British Dreadnought-class SSBNs will also use the Trident II (D5LE) missile as their initial loadout.

In January, the US Navy deployed the low-yield Trident W76-2 nuclear submarine warhead and is believed to be developed on Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennesse (SSBN-734).

In May 2019, the US Navy successfully conducted SSBN 740 submarine tests of the Trident II D5 missile.