Trident missile

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The Trident missile is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) with multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) capability. The Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) is armed with nuclear warheads and is launched from nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). Trident missiles are carried by fourteen active US Navy Ohio class submarines, with U.S. warheads, and four Royal Navy Vanguard class submarines, with British warheads. The original Prime Contractor and developer of the Missile was Lockheed Martin Space Systems in the United States.

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Development

Trident I (designated C4) was deployed in 1979 and phased out in the 1990s and early 2000s. Trident II (D5) was first deployed in 1990, and was planned to be in service for the thirty year life of the submarines, until 2027.

Trident missiles are provided to the United Kingdom under the terms of the 1963 Polaris Sales Agreement which was modified in 1982 for Trident. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had written to President Carter on July 10, 1980 to request that he approve supply of Trident I missiles. However in 1982 Thatcher wrote to President Reagan to request the United Kingdom be allowed to procure the Trident II (designated D5) system, the procurement of which had been accelerated by the US Navy. This was agreed in March 1982.[1] Under the agreement, the United Kingdom made a 10% research and development contribution.

D5 Life Extension Program

In 2002, the United States Navy announced plans to extend the life of the submarines and the D5 missiles to the year 2040.[2] This requires a D5 Life Extension Program (D5LEP,) which is currently underway. The main aim is to replace obsolete components at minimal cost by using commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware; all the while maintaining the demonstrated performance of the existing Trident II missiles. In 2007, Lockheed Martin was awarded a total of $848 million in contracts to perform this and related work, which also includes upgrading the missiles' reentry systems[3]. On the same day, Draper Labs was awarded $318 million for upgrade of the Guidance System[3] . Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair was quoted as saying the issue would be fully debated in Parliament prior to a decision being taken.[4] Blair outlined plans in Parliament on December 4, 2006 to build a new generation of submarines to carry existing Trident missiles, and join the D5LE project to refurbish them.[5]

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