US Navy completes record 191 flight tests of the Trident II D5 missile
The US Navy has highlighted the future of the US/UK seaborne nuclear deterrent by successfully launching a Trident II D5 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana for a record 191 times.
Part of the Navy's Demonstration and Shakedown Operation 32 (DASO-32) event, the purpose of the test launch with an unarmed warhead was not only to confirm the future operational status of the Trident II missiles. It also demonstrated the readiness for strategic patrols of the USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), its crew, and weapon systems.
According to Northrop Grumman, which manufactures solid-propulsion motor systems for all three stages of the Trident II missile, the test included the oldest Trident II D5 motors flown until today. The longevity of the components was an important part of the test flight because the Trident missile will remain on patrol with the US Navy and Royal Navy until the 2040s, and the submarines designed to carry them will remain active until the 2080s.
The Tridents place a heavy emphasis on reliability because they not only remain in service for decades, they also spend many months at a time installed in their submarine tubes in the event they are someday needed. To support this, Northrop has introduced advanced digital modeling for more precise and efficient manufacturing and modernization to meet future demand.
First deployed in the 1980s, the Trident II D5 is a three-stage, solid-fueled missile with a nominal range of 4,000 nm (4,600 miles, 7,400 km) with a payload of multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles, including nuclear warheads and decoys.
"Northrop Grumman’s strategic motors have provided propulsion success for 191 successful test launches since their deployment to the fleet," said Wendy Williams, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. "That is the kind of performance the Navy has come to rely upon to meet national defense readiness with Northrop Grumman solid rocket motor technology to power the Trident II Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles."
Source: Northrop Grumman