Trident II D5 Missile: Keeping Up with Changing Times
September 3/19: Supporting Services Peraton Inc. was awarded a $11.4 million contract modification for the continuation of support services including critical system assessment and vulnerability services and reentry systems development support services for the Trident II (D5). The Trident II D5 fleet ballistic missile is a three-stage, solid-propellant, inertial-guided ballistic missile developed by Lockheed Martin. The missile can carry multiple independently targeted reentry bodies for a maximum range of over 7,360 kilometers. 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. However, 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. The Trident D5 Life Extension Program is intended to extend the service life of the weapon system until 2042. Work will take place in Washington DC, Florida and New Mexico. Estimated completion date is September 30, 2020.
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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