John Keller, Military Aerospace, May 30
WASHINGTON – Strategic weapons experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. will build additional UGM-133A Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missiles and support deployed D5 atomic weapons under terms of a $43.9 million U.S. Navy order announced Friday.
Officials of the U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) office in Washington are asking the Lockheed Martin Space Systems segment in Sunnyvale, Calif., to provide new procurement of Trident II (D5) missile production and D5 deployed systems support.
Navy leaders have put a substantial amount of time, money, and resources into Trident D5 missile production over the past two years. President Donald Trump has said one of his highest military priorities is to revitalize the nation’s nuclear forces.
Just three months ago Lockheed Martin won a $95.4 million contract for Trident II D5 ballistic missile production and support, and near the same time the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., won a $58.6 million order for Trident D5 MK 6 guidance system production.
In July 2016 Lockheed Martin won a $21.8 million contract for long lead items to support the fiscal 2017 Trident II D5 missile production schedule, and around the same time the company won an $8.3 million order for a cyber-security update to information technology (IT) applications unique to fleet ballistic missile systems such as the Trident D5.
In March 2016 Draper Lab won a potential $163.6 million contract to build, test, verify, and recertify Trident missile inertial measurement units, electronic assemblies, and electronic modules.
The Trident II D5 is one of the most advanced long-range submarine-launched nuclear missiles in the world. It is the primary U.S. sea-based nuclear ballistic missile, and is deployed aboard U.S. Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
The U.S. Navy operates 14 of these ballistic missile submarines, each of which can carry as many as 24 Trident II missiles. Although the Trident II is designed to carry as many as 12 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads, current treaties reduce this number to four or five.
Each Trident II missile has a range of 4,000 to 7,000 miles. The Trident II D5 was first deployed in 1990 and is scheduled to remain in service until at least 2027.
The Navy started the D5 Life Extension Program in 2002 to replace obsolete components using as many commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts as possible to keep costs down and to enhance the missile’s capability. Draper Lab is in charge of upgrading the Trident II’s guidance system, and has been working on this project since 2005.
In practice, the Trident II missile’s inertial measurement system receives targeting data from computers aboard the submarine. The inertial measurement unit then transmits signals to the D5 flight-control computer and converts them into steering commands to keep the ballistic missile on target.
The missile’s post-boost control system maneuvers the missile in flight to observe stars for the missile’s celestial navigation subsystem, which updates the inertial system in flight.
Lockheed Martin also is integrating the Trident II onto the next-generation ballistic submarine designs of the U.S. and United Kingdom by adapting the Trident II missile and reentry subsystems into the common missile compartment for the Ohio replacement and United Kingdom successor programs.
The Ohio replacement is being designed to replace the Navy’s fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The United Kingdom successor program, meanwhile, will replace the Royal Navy’s fleet of Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines.
The U.S. Navy today operates 18 Ohio-class submarines — 14 of which carry the Trident nuclear missile. Four Ohio-class subs have been modified to carry conventionally armed long-range cruise missiles.
The Ohio-class submarine has been in commission since 1981, and this class is scheduled to be decommissioned and replaced starting in 2029. The United Kingdom Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarine has been at sea since 1993. The Royal Navy operates four Vanguard-class subs.
On this contract modification Lockheed Martin will do the work in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto, Calif.; Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Kings Bay and Atlanta, Ga.; Silverdale and Poulsbo, Wash.; Magna, Utah; Gainesville, Va.; Baltimore and Elkton, Md., and other locations, and should be finished by September 2017.
International Undersea Warfare News
Russia Fires Underwater Cruise Missiles At ISIS Near Palmyra
Damien Sharkov, Newsweek, May 31
Russia has announced that one of its warships and a submarine in the Mediterranean Sea fired cruise missiles against the militant Islamic State (ISIS) group near the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.
Moscow is a supporter of the embattled Syrian government and its leader President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian regime has been engaged in a civil war with Islamist and militant rebels for nearly six years now. Russia retains a long-term presence in Mediterranean waters where it rotates ships from its Baltic and Black Sea ports.
The Russian frigate Admiral Essen and the submarine Krasnodar fired four Kalibr missiles towards Palmyra, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday, state news agency RIA Novosti announced. No casualties were reported.
The target of the strike was apparently a site west of Palmyra where Russia had spotted a buildup of ISIS combat equipment and manpower. According to the Russian statement the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as the Turkish and Israeli defense ministries received information about the launch “via the relevant cooperation channels.”
Admiral Essen and Krasnodar have both been in the Mediterranean since early May. The last time Russian cruise missiles struck Syrian targets was in November last year, hitting positions in Idlib and Homs provinces.
The city of Palmyra contains numerous cultural treasures, certified by UNESCO as important cultural sites and when ISIS captured the area in 2015 the group destroyed several monuments, including parts of the Mesopotamian Temple of Bel. Syrian forces, supported by Russian jets retook the city in 2016, receiving much publicity from Russian state media in particular, only for ISIS to recapture the city at the end of the year.
Russia’s official military intervention in Syria began in the summer of 2015 at the behest of the Syrian regime, and has diverged in its priorities regarding the war when compared to the aims of the coalition led by the United States.
Russia’s commitment to fighting militants extends beyond ISIS, repeatedly hitting other forces that are fighting both ISIS and pro-government forces. Whether and in what capacity Assad remains in power continues to be a sticking point for peace talks between his allies in Russia and Syria and those backed by the West.