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Trident II

Submarine-launched ballistic missile

Trident 2

The Trident II is one of the deadliest intercontinental missiles in the world

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 1990
Missile
Missile length 13.58 m
Missile diameter 2.11 m
Launch weight 59 t
Throw weight 2.8 t
Number of MIRVs 8 x 475 kT
Range (full load) 7 800 km
Range (reduced load) 12 000 km
CEP 90 m
Guidance Astro-inertial with GPS

 

   The Trident D5, or Trident II, is a Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM). It is an improved version of the previous Trident C4  with greater payload, range and accuracy. It was first deployed in 1990. These Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) are used by the United States and the United Kingdom. The US Trident II missiles are carried by 14 Ohio class submarines, while the British missiles are carried by 4 Vanguard class submarines.

   The Trident II is a three-stage solid propellant missile. It has a range of 7 800 km with full load and 12 000 km with reduced load. So even though the Trident II does not have the longest range comparing with other ICBMs, submarines armed with these missiles can always approach their targets in order to reduce their flight range.

   The Trident II is a Multiple Independently-targeted Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) system. The missile has a throw weight of 2 800 kg. Each US Trident II missiles can carry up to 14 warheads with a 475 kT yield each. Each warhead weights 175 kg. Though START I agreement between the US and Soviet Union reduced this number to 8. In 2010 a follow-up agreement was signed between US and Russia. It is called the "new START". So currently the US Trident II missiles are armed with 8 warheads with a 475 kT yield each. Re-entry vehicles maneuver in order to avoid enemy air defenses. Each re-entry vehicle is targeted independently.

   British missiles use different locally built warheads. Under a 1958 agreement the USA supplied UK with blueprints of their warhead design. But the design, production and maintenance of the UK warheads are purely UK responsibility. Furthermore the UK was not limited by the START I treaty and was capable of developing improved versions of these warheads on their own. The British Trident II missiles reportedly carry up to 12 warheads per missile. Maintenance of the British missiles occurs in the US. However, the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston undertakes all the design, construction, installation and maintenance of the warheads.

   The Trident II is a very accurate missile. It has a CEP of around 90 m. It is guided on the target by astro-inertial navigation system, but can also receive GPS updates.

   The Triden II missile not only has impressive range, great payload and is very accurate. Another major advantage of the Trident II over other ballistic missiles is that it is submarine-launched. It makes these ICBMs extremely deadly. At the same time positions of stationary silo-based ballistic missiles are known and are targeted by hostile nuclear missiles. So ballistic submarines with Trident II missiles have a high probability of surviving the first strike, once the country has been attacked.

   Each US Ohio class submarine carries 24 of these missiles. Because of their longer-range Trident II missiles, the Ohio class boats have patrol areas in waters either close to the US or in the remoter parts of the World's oceans, making virtually impossible effective anti-submarine measures, the more so as the boats, are acoustically very quiet. It is worth noting that USA controls most of the World's water area with its fleet. It allows these submarines to remain undetected on their patrols.

   The British Vanguard class boats carry 16 missiles. Each Vanguard-class submarine can carry a maximum of 192 nuclear warheads, although the Royal Navy originally insisted that each boat would carry no more than 96, deployed across eight missiles. Since the Strategic Defense Review, this has been further reduced to 48 warheads per boat, spread across four missiles. Although the Ministry of Defense refuses to comment on how many missiles are deployed when a boat is on patrol, it has indicated that the complement of Trident II missiles now only carries one warhead per missile, which is probably in the sub-strategic kiloton range. A single Vanguard class boat is on deterrence patrol at any one time, and a reserve boat is also available.

   It is planned that upgraded versions of the Trident II missiles will remain in service until 2042.

 
Trident 2

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Trident 2

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Trident 2

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Trident 2

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Trident 2

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