U.S. Trident II D5 Missile's Reliability Reaches 142 Test Flights
Lockheed Martin-Built Trident II D5 Missile's Reliability Record Reaches 142 Successful Test Flights. The U.S. Navy conducted successful test flights April 14 and 16 of four Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missiles (FBMs) built by Lockheed Martin (LMT). The Navy launched two unarmed missiles each day from the submerged submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) in the Atlantic Ocean.
These tests marked the 139th, 140th, 141st and 142nd successful test flights of the Trident II D5 missile since design completion in 1989 – a reliability record unmatched by any other large ballistic missile or space launch vehicle.
"Under the leadership of Navy Strategic Systems Programs, the Trident Strategic Weapon System continues to demonstrate solid reliability in operationally representative flight testing," said Melanie A. Sloane, vice president of Fleet Ballistic Missile programs, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, the Navy's Trident missile prime contractor.
"These tests are an important part of the strategic deterrence mission because the mere presence of this highly capable system discourages aggression. The stealth and mobility of the submarine-based Trident Strategic Weapon System give it a unique role in deterrence as the most survivable leg of the strategic triad, which ensures the security of our nation against any potential adversary."
The Navy launched the missiles as part of Follow-on Commander's Evaluation Tests. The Navy conducts a continuing series of operational system evaluation tests to assure the safety, reliability, readiness and performance of the Trident Strategic Weapon System, as required by the Department of Defense's National Command Authority. The Navy conducts the tests under the testing guidelines of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The missiles were converted into a test configuration using a test missile kit produced by Lockheed Martin that contains range safety devices, tracking systems and flight telemetry instrumentation.
First deployed in 1990, the D5 missile currently is aboard OHIO-class and British Vanguard-class submarines. The three-stage, solid-propellant, inertial-guided ballistic missile can travel a nominal range of 4,000 nautical miles and carries multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles.
Source: SUNNYVALE, Calif. - Lockheed Martin; issued May 31, 2012
Photo: The U.S. Lockheed Martin Trident II D5 Missile (Photo by Lockheed Martin)