US Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) launched two Trident II missiles on September 17, during a scheduled test flight on the Eastern Test Range off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The test of the unarmed life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missiles was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO-31.
The primary objective of a DASO is to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN’s Strategic Weapon System (SWS) and crew before operational deployment following the submarine’s engineered refueling overhaul.
“The DASO test, and others like these, underscore our readiness and capability for 21st century strategic deterrence,” said Rear Adm. Thomas E. Ishee, USSTRATCOM director of Global Operations.
“SSBN crews undergo constant training and regularly planned testing to ensure the weapons systems remain ready and reliable. The sailors and support element who make up the silent service prove every day they are capable and prepared to protect America and its allies.”
According to the navy, this launch marks 184 successful missile test flights of the Trident II (D5 & D5LE) SWS.
The Trident II (D5) missiles recently underwent a life extension program to address potential impacts from aging and obsolescence. The life-extended missiles – Trident II (D5LE) – are now being deployed to the Fleet and will serve for the remaining service life of US Ohio-class and United Kingdom Vanguard-class SSBNs, and as the initial load-out for the US Columbia-class and UK Dreadnought-class SSBNs.
USS Maine (SSBN-741) successfully executed the navy’s last DASO in February 2020 off the coast of San Diego, California. The navy’s most recent flight test – a Commander’s Evaluation Test – was a series of four launches in February 2021 off the coast of Florida. Each of these flight tests were of the life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missiles.
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) are the sea-based leg of the American strategic nuclear deterrent triad that also includes the US Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and nuclear-capable bombers. Each part of the triad provides unique capabilities and advantages.
The sea-based leg makes up the majority – approximately 70 percent – of America’s deployed strategic nuclear deterrent triad. The SLBM is the most survivable leg of the triad, provides a persistent presence, and allows for flexible concepts of operations.