Trident II D5 Missile: Keeping Up with Changing Times
April 3/19: Engineering and Technical Support The Strategic Systems Programs awarded Lockheed Martin Space an $18 million contract modification to provide support for the Trident II Fleet Ballistic Missile System of the UK. The modification includes engineering and technical support services, and deliverable materials. The deal is to support technical planning, direction, coordination, and control to ensure that UK Fleet Ballistic Missile Program requirements are identified and integrated to support planned milestone schedules and emergent requirements. The Trident II or Trident D5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile carried by the US Ohio and four UK Vanguard Class Submarines. It is a three-stage rocket with each stage containing a solid-fuel rocket motor. The contract modification also provides for re-entry Systems UK resident technical support, operational support hardware, and consumable spares. According to the DoD, UK Funds in the amount of $17,976,489 will be obligated on this award. Lockheed will perform work within the US and the UK. The expected level-of-effort completion date is March 31, 2020, and the deliverable items completion date is June 30, 2021.
Nuclear tipped missiles were first deployed on board US submarines at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, to deter a Soviet first strike. The deterrence theorists argued that, unlike their land-based cousins, submarine-based nuclear weapons couldn’t be taken out by a surprise first strike, because the submarines were nearly impossible to locate and target. Which meant that Soviet leaders could not hope to destroy all of America’s nuclear weapons before they could be launched against Soviet territory. SLBM/FBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile/ Fleet Ballistic Missile) offered shorter ranges and less accuracy than their land-based ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) counterparts, but the advent of Trident C4 missiles began extending those ranges, and offering other improvements. The C4s were succeeded by larger Trident II D5 missiles, which added precision accuracy and more payload.
The year that the Trident II D5 ballistic missile was first deployed, 1990, saw the beginning of the end of the missile’s primary mission. Even as the Soviet Union began to implode, the D5’s performance improvements were making the Trident submarine force the new backbone of the USA’s nuclear deterrent – and of Britain’s as well. To ensure that this capability was maintained at peak readiness and safety, the US Navy undertook a program in 2002 to replace aging components of the Trident II D5 missile called the D5 Life Extension (LE) Program. This article covers D5 LE, as well as support and production contracts associated with the American and British Trident missile fleets.
D5 Life Extension Program
Contracts and Key Events
FY 2014 – 2019
FY 2007 – 2008
FY 2005 – 2006
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