Members of Congress and the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commander were aboard the USS Kentucky when the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) conducted a successful test flight of a Trident II D5 Missile, Nov. 7, 2015, to obtain valid reliability, accuracy and performance factors for use by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and USSTRATCOM.
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The unarmed test missile was launched as part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operations (DASO) from the USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California. The primary objective of a DASO is to demonstrate the readiness of a SSBN’s crew and weapon system. This launch marked the 156th successful test flight of the Trident II (D5) missile conducted by SSP since 1989.
“A credible, effective nuclear deterrent is essential to our national security and the security of U.S. allies and friends,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander, who monitored the test from the USS Kentucky (SSBN 737).
Admiral Haney stated that “strategic weapons tests demonstrate the readiness of our nation’s nuclear triad and serve to assure our allies and deter our potential adversaries.” He went on to say that exercises, weapons tests and operations are an important part of validating that our deterrence forces are capable 24/7.
Also witnessing the test was a congressional delegation including Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Rep. Stephen Womack (Arkansas), Rep. Pete Visclosky (Indiana), Rep. Jackie Walorski (Indiana), Rep. Larry Bucshon (Indiana) and professional staff members from Senate and House subcommittees.
“I’m thrilled that some of our congressional members were able to take the time to witness this test and to see firsthand the professional and dedicated submariners conducting the strategic deterrence mission, as well as the team of professionals supporting the test,” said Haney.
Haney encouraged the observers to share their experience with their colleagues and others as he discussed the importance of strategic deterrence for our nation today, and for tomorrow’s future.
The triad, the U.S. strategic nuclear forces of ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers and the tankers that refuel them, along with intelligence, sensing capabilities, national nuclear command, control and communications, altogether comprise the primary deterrent of nuclear attacks against the U.S., our allies, and partners.
The U.S. Navy supports USSTRATCOM’s strategic deterrence missions by operating and maintaining Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the most survivable leg of the triad, to deter regional and strategic threats. The weapon system is a critical element that underpins U.S. national security.
“It is safe, secure, effective and ready today, but the platform is aging and in need of replacement. I look forward to continued progress on the Ohio Replacement Program to ensure the nation has this capability well into the future to continue providing security for America and our allies,” Haney said.
“Ensuring our nation’s strategic forces have the resources they need, are trained to the highest standards, and are ready to perform their critical mission remains one of the most important priorities I hold as an elected official,” Walorski said. “I want to thank the brave men and women who serve in our submarine and strategic forces communities, your quiet sacrifices, often absent from any headlines, protect the freedoms that all Americans enjoy. We are forever grateful for your service.”
U.S. Navy’s SSP conducted another successful test flight – the 157th – of a Trident II D5 Missile, Nov. 9. The unarmed test missile was also launched as part of a DASO from the USS Kentucky in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California. Haney and the congressional members, however, were not on board.
One of nine DoD unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global strategic missions, assigned through the Unified Command Plan, which include strategic deterrence; space operations; cyberspace operations; joint electronic warfare; global strike; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combating weapons of mass destruction; and analysis and targeting.