The new US Trident D5 nuclear ICBM, being called the Trident D5 LE2
USN Vice Adm. Wolfe, Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) director speaking at the annual US Naval Submarine League symposium.
1) Has already done one life extension (LE) program to modernize these missiles, but “we’re going to physically run out of Trident D5 missiles. We bought an inventory of 533, we are no longer producing the equipment section, we are no longer producing post-boost. So we have to go build more missiles”
2) The Navy would pursue a hybrid of a life extension and a new program – keeping some components, like the rocket motors that are still in production today, while investing in new avionics and other front-end items for the missile.
3) The admiral said that many details still had to be worked out in upcoming studies, such as how many missiles to buy, how much of the new technology could be backfit onto today’s existing missiles, what industrial base capacity exists to build these missiles,
4) SSP has to create a new missile for the duration of the Columbia program – through 2084 – that is as reliable or better. The “secret sauce” to doing that, he said, is building in flexibility so that components prone to obsolescence – the avionics, guidance, post-boost system, primary battery and more – can be easily upgraded down the road as technology evolves.
Assuming one reason Dreadnought budget has contingency of £10B? to allow for any cost growth in its ICBMs.