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UGM-133 Trident II
A Trident II launch from a submerged submarine.
A Trident II launch from a submerged submarine.
Function SLBM
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin Space Systems
Size
Height 13.41 metres (44.0 ft)
Diameter 2.11 metres (83 in)
Mass 58,500 kilograms (129,000 lb)
Stages 3
Launch history
Status Active
Launch sites LC-46, Cape Canaveral
Ohio class submarines
Vanguard class submarines
Maiden flight 1987-01-15[1]

UGM-133 Trident II, or Trident D5 is a Submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California, and deployed with the Royal Navy and US Navy. It was first deployed in 1990, and is still in service.

Trident II was developed in response to the development of a large number of heavy, increasingly accurate, MIRVed ICBMs, such as the R-36, by the Soviet Union. These missiles seriously threatened the survival of Minuteman III missiles in their silos. If the Soviet Union could knock out the majority of these missiles and strategic bombers when on the ground, it would have left the United States with no retaliatory capabilities.

Trident II was designed to be more sophisticated than Trident I, and have a greater payload capacity. It is accurate enough to be used as a first strike weapon. All three stages of the Trident II are made of graphite epoxy, making the missile much lighter. Trident II missiles are carried by British Vanguard class and US Ohio class submarines. USS Tennessee was the first submarine to be armed with Trident IIs. Trident II missiles are currently carried by twelve Ohio class, and four Vanguard class SSBNs. There were 129 consecutive successful test launches of the D5 missile since 1989 with the most recent being carried out on the 3rd and 4th of September 2009 from USS West Virginia (SSBN-736).[2]

The development contract for Trident II was issued in October 1983. The first Trident II launch occurred in January 1987, and the first submarine launch was attempted by USS Tennessee (SSBN-734, the first D-5 ship of the Ohio class) in March 1989. The launch attempt failed because of problems with the first stage engine nozzle, and these problems delayed the IOC (Initial Operational Capability) of Trident II until March 1990. [3]

Contents

Specifications

  • Purpose: strategic nuclear deterrence
  • Unit Cost: US$30.9 million
  • Range: 11,300 kilometres (7,000 mi)
  • Maximum speed: > 6,000 m/s (>21,000 km/h).[4]
  • Guidance system: inertial, with Star-Sighting, GPS.
  • CEP: 90-120 m (300-400 ft) (with GPS guidance), ~120 m without GPS using the Mark 5 RV.[5]
  • Warhead (in USA usage only): nuclear MIRV. Up to eight W88 (475 kt) warheads (Mark 5) or eight W76 (100 kt) warheads (Mark 4). The Trident II can carry 12 MIRV warheads but START I reduces this to 8 and SORT reduces this yet further to 4 or 5.

Boats currently armed with Trident II missiles

 Royal Navy
 United States Navy


See also

References

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