Wednesday 29 May, 2024
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USS Louisiana test fires Trident II ballistic missile

The U.S. Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs conducted a scheduled missile test flight of an unarmed Trident II (D5LE) missile from the USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) submarine on 27 September.

This test marks the 191st successful missile launch of the Trident II (D5 & D5LE) strategic weapon system (SWS) missile since its deployment in 1989. The test was part of the Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO-32), which was the final DASO conducted by an Ohio-class SSBN coming out of Engineering Refuel Overhaul (ERO).

The primary objective of a DASO is to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN’s strategic weapon system and crew before operational deployment following the submarine’s midlife refueling overhaul or as part of new construction.

The Trident II (D5) SWS is a highly accurate and reliable weapon system that has been actively deployed on Ohio-class SSBNs since its introduction to operational deployment on USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) in 1990. It is the deployed system for the remaining service life of U.S Ohio-class and United Kingdom Vanguard-class SSBNs, and is the initial loadout for the U.S. Columbia-class and U.K. Dreadnought-class SSBNs.

Test launches are conducted on a recurring basis to evaluate and ensure the continued reliability and accuracy of the strategic weapon system. Each test provides valuable information about our strategic weapon systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities.

It’s important to note that the missile test was not conducted in response to any ongoing world events or as a demonstration of power. Test launches, including DASOs, are scheduled years in advance.

The Navy’s last DASO was conducted in October 2021 off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, from USS Wyoming (SSBN-742), while the most recent flight test was a series of two missile launches from USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) in June 2023, also off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. These launches were part of routine testing to evaluate and ensure the continued reliability and accuracy of the strategic weapon system.

“I am immensely proud of the government-industry team,” said VADM Johnny Wolfe, Jr., Director of Strategic Systems Programs. “The completion of DASO-32 marks an historic milestone in the life of the Trident II D5 weapons system, and provides the SSP team with a tangible reminder of the great responsibility before us—sustain this unmatched weapons system while developing the next generation strategic weapons system to ensure our nation’s sea-based strategic deterrence capability through 2084.”

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of Neil is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. He can be found on Twitter: @NeilRitchie86.

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