The Navy successfully conducted a two-missile flight test of unarmed life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missiles from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) on Sept. 17.
This test was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, called DASO-31, that aimed to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the submarine’s Strategic Weapon System and crew before operational deployment. This came after the vessel’s engineered refueling overhaul.
The test occurred at the Eastern Test Range off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The Trident II missiles are normally armed with nuclear weapons as one of the legs of the U.S. nuclear weapons triad, making up about 70 percent of deployed nuclear deterrent forces.
“The DASO test, and others like these, underscore our readiness and capability for 21st Century Strategic Deterrence. SSBN crews undergo constant training and regularly planned testing to ensure the weapons systems remain ready and reliable,” Rear Adm. Thomas Ishee, U.S. Strategic Command director of Global Operations, said in a statement.
The Navy noted this test marked 184 successful missile test flights of the Trident II nuclear weapon system, both of the D5 and D5 Life Extended versions combined.
According to the director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, this test “demonstrates the unmatched reliability of our sea-based nuclear deterrent, which is made possible by a dedicated team of military, civilian and industry partners who bring expertise and dedication to the mission that is truly extraordinary.”
“This same team is now developing the next generation of the Trident Strategic Weapon System, which will extend our sea-based strategic deterrent through 2084,” he added.
The Life Extended Trident missiles are being deployed to the fleet and aim to serve for the remaining service life of the Ohio-class and the United Kingdom’s Vanguard-class nuclear armed submarines. This missiles will also be the the initial missiles deployed on the next set of SSBNs, the U.S. Columbia-class and U.K. Dreadnought-class.
Previously, the USS Maine (SSBN-741) successfully performed the Navy’s last DASO in February 2020 off the coast of San Diego.
The most recent Navy flight test in February 2021, a Commander’s Evaluation Test, involved a set of four launches off the coast of Florida, each using the life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missiles.
The Navy reiterated the flight test missiles are not armed and the launches began from the sea with missiles never flying over land.
The service argued this latest missile test, and DASOs generally, are not in response to world events or acting as a power demonstration, but are scheduled years in advance.