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US Navy fires submarine-launched ballistic missile in life extension test

An unarmed Trident II D5LE missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), marking a successful Demonstration and Shakedown Operation-32 (DASO-32) off the coast of San Diego, California, Sept. 28, 2023. Photo: US Navy/Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Tang.

The US Navy has successfully fired an unarmed submarine-launched ballistic missile from an Ohio Class nuclear-powered submarine off the coast of California.

The US Navy has successfully fired an unarmed submarine-launched ballistic missile from an Ohio Class nuclear-powered submarine off the coast of California.

The data collection trial, held in collaboration with US defence prime Lockheed Martin, marks the final planned test of a Trident II D5 Life Extension Fleet Ballistic Missile during the US Navy’s Demonstration and Shakedown Operation-32.

The DASO is designed to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN’s Strategic Weapon System and crew before operational deployment following the submarine’s engineered refuelling overhaul.

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The latest firing, from the US Navy submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) on 28 September, extends the Trident II D5’s record to 191 successful test launches since design completion in 1989.

“We are proud of Lockheed Martin’s nearly seven decades of partnership with the US Navy to develop advanced weapon capabilities to deter threats to our nation and allies,” according to Lockheed Martin fleet ballistic missiles vice-president Jerry Mamrol.

“As the Navy turns towards the future of sea-based strategic deterrence, our new generation of engineers and technicians are poised to meet the challenges of this next era.

“Lockheed Martin is already preparing and modernising the missile for its future launch platform, Columba Class submarines.”

The three-stage, solid-propellant, inertial-guided D5 ballistic missile can reportedly travel a range of 4,000 nautical miles and carries multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles. It is traditionally carried aboard US Navy Ohio Class and UK Vanguard Class submarines.

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