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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Trident II D-5 Fleet Ballistic Missile

Recent Developments

USS LOUISIANA (SSBN 743), the last of the 18 Trident submarines to be constructed, successfully launched one unarmed Trident II (D-5) ballistic Missile on 18 December 1997. The launch from the submerged submarine took place on the United States' Eastern Range, off the coast of Florida, as part of LOUISIANA's Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO). The purpose of the DASO is to demonstrate the submarine crew's ability to meet the stringent safety requirements for handling, maintaining and operating the strategic weapons system. The DASO also confirms the submarine's ability to correctly target and launch a Trident missile. This was the 77th consecutive successful launch of the Trident II (D-5) missile since 1989; the longest string of successes in the history of United States' ballistic missiles

The US Navy's Trident II Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile system routinely conducts joint DOE/Department of Defense flight tests on instrumented Mk5 Reentry Bodies known as Joint Test Assemblies (JTAs). During a past flight, the JTA telemetry experienced a single-event upset occurrence as it flew through the Van Allen Belt and the South Atlantic Anomaly (an intense, low-altitude high-energy proton belt). A multidisciplinary effort by Sandia Lab scientists and engineers assembled to determine the causal elements and to assist in devising a solution. To correct for this event, the W88-0/JTA telemetry system was redesigned by incorporating into the signal processor design four high-energy-proton-resistant integrated circuits.

In June 2002, the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific in Bangor, Washington, achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) to support the TRIDENT II Strategic Weapon System in the Pacific. The Navy now has TRIDENT II capability on both coasts. In August 2002, USS NEVADA (SSBN 733) completed her engineered overhaul and backfit conversion to the TRIDENT II Strategic Weapon System at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard - she was the second ship to complete the TRIDENT II backfit and overhaul ahead of schedule and under budget.

The TRIDENT II D-5 life extension (LE) program is required due to the OHIO Class Ballistic Missile Nuclear Submarine (SSBN) service life increasing from 30 years to 45 years. With respect to flight hardware, D-5 life extension requires procurement of an additional 115 TRIDENT II D-5 missiles, revising the total D-5 procurement objective from 425 to 540. In addition, the guidance system and missile electronics must be replaced due to aging and obsolescence issues.

With the SSBN service life extended to 45 years, a missile inventory shortfall would occur starting in approximately FY 2014 when the oldest OHIO Class submarine would have originally been decommissioned. The 30-year service life procurement objective of 425 TRIDENT II D-5 missiles did not support the additional flight tests necessary to extend the TRIDENT II D-5 SWS to 45 years.

The Navy is currently executing a low rate production continuity procurement strategy for critical components of TRIDENT II D-5 missiles. Several missile components are designated as critical, the most important being the rocket motor sets. These critical components are being procured at their minimum rate in advance of when they would be required for full missile assembly to sustain component quality and maintain the supplier base. The production continuity procurement strategy has been extensively reviewed and approved by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Congress and has been in execution for nearly 15 years. This procurement strategy has proven successful, based on the demonstrated superb performance of the TRIDENT II D-5 Strategic Weapon System. The FY 2004 TRIDENT II WPN budget request includes the continued production of rocket motors and other critical components.

With respect to flight hardware, D-5 life extension requireed procurement of an additional 115 Trident II D-5 missiles, revising the total D-5 procurement objective from 425 to 540. In addition, the guidance system and missile electronics were being replaced because of age and obsolescence issues. The current program fully funds the additional 115 TRIDENT II D-5 LE missiles in FY 2008 through FY 2013, supporting lead-time away from need requirements. Rocket motor sets and other critical components in support of the 115 missile requirement are currently being procured. Rocket motor procurements in support of the additional missiles for life extension began in FY 2002.

The current TRIDENT II D-5 Mk-6 Guidance System improved accuracy by a factor of four over the previous TRIDENT I C-4 Mk-5 Guidance Subsystem. As successful and reliable as the Mk6 Guidance Subsystem has been to date, there are significant technology limitations that make this design impractical to maintain throughout the extended life period. The Mk-6 design is based on early 1980's technology. Production ended with the FY 2001 procurement. Restarting production would be cost prohibitive, and attempting to integrate today's electronics technology into a 20-year old design would be inefficient and high risk. The Mk-6 guidance subsystem, in its current form, will not support the life extension requirements. The Navy program includes the most affordable and lowest risk approach to meet TRIDENT II D-5 LE requirements by the pursuit of a system to replace the Mk-6, designated the Next Generation Guidance (NGG). Due to the advancements made in technology, both in components (solid state sensors and electronics) and in modeling and simulation, stringent cost targets have been established for NGG with the requirement to meet current Mk-6 performance. The ability to develop precision instruments, sensors, and radiation hardened architectures for NGG requires investment in underlying commercially supported technologies to adapt them for the unique strategic requirements. The redesign approach leverages off of current Air Force/Navy cooperative strategic-unique technology efforts and will result in a Navy TRIDENT II D-5 LE solution and government owned design package that can be used by other Services to leverage off the Navy investment.

Similarly, missile electronics packages must also be redesigned for the same aging and obsolescence issues described above for guidance. The technology used for D-5 electronics is obsolete and for most components there is no longer an industrial base. Thus, the TRIDENT II D-5 electronics subsystem will require new package designs for the additional missile procurements and for backfit into existing missiles, since legacy electronic components are no longer available. The Navy's FY 2004 WPN request continues the missile electronics and guidance system redesign efforts begun in FY 2003.

The D5 missile is capable of carrying both the W76/MK4 and the W88/MK5 reentry bodies. While the W88/MK5 was designed specifically for the D5 during the early 1980s and will not need to be immediately refurbished, the W76/MK4 warhead and fuze carried on the MK4 reentry body was designed in the early 1970s and began deployment in 1979 on the TRIDENT I (C4) missile with a design life of 20 years. The W76/MK4 program was based on the older W68/MK3 design and some of the components were carried over from that program. There are technical and programmatic issues that require both a refurbished warhead and a refurbished fuze for the W76/MK4. The Department of Energy and the Navy are executing a refurbishment program for the W76/MK4 reentry body. The Navy's refurbishment of the W76/MK4 fuze is supported in the Navy's FY 2004 WPN budget request.

The service life extension for flight hardware followed a strategy that effectively addresses two key issues: (1) supporting the existing systems, recognizing that some parts will fail due to age or become obsolete, and (2) producing the additional flight test missiles required to assure credibility and safety of the deterrent. These flight test missiles support qualification of new or modified components, as well as the additional annual reliability tests required due to extended program life. The Navy has increased research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) investment in strategic programs to enable changes articulated in the new strategic framework outlined by the NPR. The Trident program makes significant contributions to the offensive and infrastructure legs of the "New Triad" described in the NPR. These contributions are achieved by (1) "applications" programs in specific technology areas and (2) focused development programs for specific capabilities.

Applications programs have the major goal of sustaining unique strategic technology, design talents, and infrastructure. The strategic guidance and reentry body applications programs have existed for about 8 years. New applications program starts in strategic propulsion and radiation-hardened electronics are contained in the FY2004 budget. The Navy and Air Force coordinate technology areas and critical skills to obtain maximum synergy. The Navy has four major applications program efforts included in the FY2004 budget request: Reentry System Applications Program (RSAP), Strategic Guidance Applications Program (GAP), Strategic Propulsion Applications Program (SPAP), and Radiation Hardened Applications Program (RHAP).

Separate from the applications programs, a specific technology solution, D-5 Enhanced Effectiveness (E2), has been identified and included in the FY2004 budget request. The E2 program is designed to provide the D-5 SLBM force enhanced capability to conduct prompt, highly accurate strike; defeat hard and deeply buried targets; and reduce collateral damage with selective nuclear options. The E2 program is a 3-year effort culminating in a flight test of a Trident reentry body with dramatically improved accuracy.

The approach is to integrate existing GPS and inertial measurement unit (IMU) technologies with a flap steering system and a reentry body extension. The extension would attach to the existing Mk 4 (W76) warhead, giving it the size and weight of the larger Mk 5 (W88) warhead. Since the current D-5 missile is capable of carrying either the Mk 4 or Mk 5 warhead, the changes to the missile are minimal. The concept is to initialize the E2 IMU with the missile guidance system, apply a GPS update during reentry body exoatmospheric flight, and use the IMU and control flaps to steer the warhead with GPS-like accuracy during atmospheric reentry.

Although strategic systems do not traditionally rely on GPS for their operation, the usefulness of a limited number of these highly accurate warheads reflects new NPR-articulated strategic strike missions. The demonstration was to culminate in flight tests and provide a final demonstration assessment report and recommended transition plan to the Navy and Strategic Command (STRATCOM) in early FY2007.

The Navy's initial funding requests for the D-5 Enhanced Effectiveness (E2) initiative were rejected by Congress in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 and it has not requested funds again since then.

Beginning in FY 2001, funds were included for D-5 life extension to ensure that Strategic Weapons System life matches the extended extended 44-year Ohio-class SSBN hull life. The D-5 life extension program takes the D-5 missile and the components on it that will be hit by obsolescence, notably the electronic components. There are six packages on that system, two in the guidance and four in the missile. In 2006 the Navy was going through the design of those components so that in FY '08 the service could start buying the first D-5 life extension missile, with an IOC in 2013.

On November 29th, 2007 the U.S. Navy conducted a successful test launch of a Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) built by Lockheed Martin. The Navy launched the unarmed missile from the submerged submarine USS HENRY M JACKSON (SSBN 730) in the Pacific Ocean. The Trident II D5 missile had achieved 120 consecutive successful test launches since 1989 - a record unmatched by any other large ballistic missile or space launch vehicle. The missile launch was part of the Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) to certify USS HENRY M JACKSON for deployment, following a shipyard overhaul period and conversion from Trident I C4 to Trident II D5 configuration. The Navy performs tests to assure the safety, reliability, readiness and performance of the Trident II D5 Strategic Weapon System, as required by the Department of Defense's National Command Authority and conducted under the testing guidelines of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For the tests, operational missiles are converted into inert configurations using test missile kits produced by Lockheed Martin that contain range safety devices and flight telemetry instrumentation.

On December 20th, 2007 the U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a contract valued at $849 million for fiscal year 2008 production and deployed system support for the Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) program. Work under the contract includes D5 production support, including reentry system hardware, and operations and maintenance to support the readiness and reliability of missile systems deployed aboard FBM submarines and at on-shore facilities. The contract also continues D5 Life Extension development work. Deliveries under the original D5 contract, which called for production of 425 missiles, began in 1989 and concluded in 2007. D5 Life Extension missile deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2011, with a minimum of 108 additional missiles being delivered by 2017.

Funding in the TRIDENT II Mods line is required to continue the procurement of TRIDENT II missiles, initial production of which commenced in FY 1987 (funded in the TRIDENT II D-5 line item) and supported a TRIDENT II missile Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in March 1990. The FY 2009 request of $1,093.2 million includes $186.3 million for program and production support costs (including flight test instrumentation and additional reentry system hardware) and $906.9 million for the D-5 life extension program. The FY 2010 request of $1,100.4 million includes $181.3 million for program and production support costs (including flight test instrumentation and additional reentry system hardware), and $919.1 million for the D-5 life extension program. The D-5 life extension funding request procures additional missiles, D-5 missile motors, and other critical components required to support the extended SSBN hull life (for a 14 SSBN TRIDENT II program, which assumes the backfit of four C-4 boats to the D-5 configuration) and sustains the redesign of the guidance system and missile electronics, which must be replaced to support the extended service life. These estimates support an FY 2013 D-5 life extension IOC to maintain the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)-directed deployed force structure of 12 TRIDENT II SSBNs each fully loaded with 24 D-5 missiles.

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Page last modified: 03-05-2018 18:21:37 ZULU