Trident II D5 Missile: Keeping Up with Changing Times

November 17/23: Support BAE Systems Technology won a contract modification (P00020) in the amount of $14,599,740 to a previously awarded and announced contract (N00030-22-C-6001) to exercise fiscal 2024 options to provide support services for the US Trident II D5 Strategic Weapon Systems program, Attack Weapon System program, and the Nuclear Weapon Security program. This contract award also benefits a foreign military sale to the United Kingdom. Work will be performed in Rockville, Maryland (58.2%); Washington, DC, (23.8%); Saint Mary’s, Georgia (3.3%); Cape Canaveral, Florida (2.3%); Rochester, United Kingdom (1.7%); Bremerton, Washington (1.3%); Portsmouth, Virginia (1.0%); and various other locations (less than 1% each, 8.4% total). Work is expected to be completed Sept. 30, 2024, and will be incrementally funded.





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Trident II D5 Test Launch (click to view full) 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 […]

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