UGM 133 Trident D5

Missile Threat

A Project of the George C. Marshall and Claremont Institutes

usa UGM-133 Trident D-5

UMG-133 Trident D-5 (Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems)
Originated From:United States
Possessed By:United Kingdom, United States
Alternate Name:Trident 2
Class:Sea Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)
Basing:Submarine launched
Length:13.42 m
Diameter:2.11 m
Launch Weight:59,090 kg
Payload:Up to 8 MIRV Mk 4 or Mk 5 warheads, 2,800 kg
Warhead:Nuclear 100 kt or 475 kT
Propulsion:Three-stage solid propellant
Range:12,000 km
Status:Operational
In Service:1990
The UGM-133 Trident D-5 is an intercontinental-range, submarine-launched, solid-propellant ballistic missile. It represents the most modern submarine-launched ballistic missile outside of the experimental Russian Bulava. It makes up the entirety of US submarine-based nuclear deterrent and a key part of the US nuclear deterrent force. It is the first US submarine-based missile to have a capability against hardened targets. The life span of the missile has been extended to 42 years. The Trident D-5 missile is currently used by both the United Kingdom and the United States on their respective Vanguard- and Ohio-class submarines. The primary contractor behind the development of the D-5 was Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Missile and Space Operations.

The Trident D-5 has a maximum range of 12,000 km (7,456 miles), similar to that of silo-based systems, and has a payload as large as 2,800 kg. Its payload carries a Post-Boost Vehicle (PBV) which can carry 8 to 12 Reentry Vehicles (RVs), though the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) limits the number to eight. These RVs can either be the Mk 4 with a W76 100 kT yield warhead or the Mk 5, which has a W88 475 kT yield warhead. The missile is almost certainly equipped with countermeasures. The system uses an inertial navigation system combined with a stellar reference system that provides an extremely high accuracy of 90 m CEP. The missile has a length of 13.42 m, a width of 2.11 m, and a launch weight of 59,090 kg. It uses a three-stage solid-propellant engine.

UMG-133 developmental test launch, 1987.
Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems

There are extensive improvement programs for the Trident D-5. More accurate Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems have been tested on Trident missiles since 1993, and an earth penetrator version was considered in 1994 to attack underground facilities. Improved air-burst fuses were considered for the Mk 4 RV in 1998. New third-stage propellant motors were developed and tested and will likely be included in future versions. An extensive upgrade is planned in 2020 for 300 missiles, to upgrade them to the Trident D-5A or D-5LE versions with improved capabilities and an extended service life to 2042.

The UGM-133 Trident D-5 entered service in the US Navy in 1990. The first test launch took place in January 1987 from a launch pad, with the first naval trial, a failure, occurring in March 1989. The D-5 was originally intended to serve on all of the planned 24 Ohio-class submarines. Though original plans called for 24 submarines, this number was reduced to 18, then 14. Of these 14, four were initially fitted with the Trident C-4 missiles, though they were refitted to the D-5 by 2008. At any one time, 12 submarines are expected to be in service, with two submarines in refit and repair. A total of 540 missiles are planned to be built by 2013, with 395 missiles and 1,920 RVs built by 2002. A total of 300 Trident D-5 missiles are expected to be converted to the extended life D-5A or D-5LE, which will remain in service until 2042.

The Trident D-5 is also in service in the UK on four Vanguard-class missile submarines. The missile entered UK service in 1994. The submarines each carry 16 export US missiles, though they are equipped with UK warheads believed to be similar to the W76 100 kT US warheads. An unknown number of the missiles are planned on being deployed for non-strategic roles with 10 kT warheads. A 1999 UK statement limited the number of warheads to be deployed on each submarine to 48, an average of 3 warheads per missile.

In the United States, the Trident D-5 had been tested 143 times from the beginning of the project to July 2008. 120 additional tests will likely take place between 2008 and 2020. As of October 2005, the UK had tested the missile 8 times. 1