Friday, 17 September 2021

An upcoming Trident-II D5 SLBM test in the Atlantic

click map to enlarge

A few days ago a Navigational Warning (NAVAREA IV 838/21, also issued as HYDROLANT 2336/21) appeared which points to an upcoming Trident-II D5 SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) test from a US or Royal Navy SSBN on the Atlantic Eastern Missile Range between 12:30 UT on September 17, and 1:23 UT on Sept 20. The distance between the launch area and MIRV target area is about 9900 km.

This is the text of the Navigational Warning (the map in top of this post shows them mapped, along with a simple ballistic trajectory):

151459Z SEP 21
NAVAREA IV 838/21(11,24,26).
   A. 28-56N 079-59W, 29-02N 079-53W,
      29-06N 079-37W, 28-59N 079-10W,
      28-37N 079-10W, 28-36N 079-35W,
      28-45N 079-56W.             
   B. 28-24N 076-44W, 28-42N 076-42W,
      28-21N 074-40W, 28-06N 074-44W.
   C. 27-27N 071-21W, 27-52N 071-15W,
      27-25N 068-46W, 26-54N 068-54W.
   D. 17-22N 044-54W, 18-33N 044-32W,
      16-54N 040-55W, 16-00N 041-23W.
   E. 09-00S 003-51W, 08-22S 003-22W,
      12-35S 002-40E, 13-05S 002-19E,
      11-56S 000-16E, 12-09S 000-16W,
      11-34S 000-20W.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 200223Z SEP 21.

The launch area (area A) is one of two launch areas used for these kind of tests in the Atlantic (see an earlier post from 2019 analyzing several of these launches). It is the variant closest to the Florida coast, one which I suspect is used when the launch has an 'audience' of officials.

The area is close enough to the Florida coast that Florida east coast residents might see the launch, as has previously happened.

The target area is the regular target area in the southern Atlantic some 1000 km out of the coast of Angola.

Areas B, C and D are where the first, second and third stage splash down.



The location of the hazard areas does not match a simple ballistic trajectory well (such a trajectory is indicated by the line in the map in the top of this post), which might point to some mid-flight manoeuvering of the MIRV-bus.

The test launch is probably a DASO ("Demonstration and Shakedown Operation"), done to recertify the readiness of the submarine and its crew after major overhauls. One candidate submarine for this test launch is the Ohio-class SSBN USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) which reportedly completed a major overhaul at Kings Bay on July 1. [EDIT 18 sept 2021 15:45 UT: it actually was USS Wyoming, which fired two Trident missiles as part of the test]


UPDATE 18 Sep 2021 15:45 UT

The US Navy has announced that as part of DASO-31, the Ohio-class SSBN-742 USS Wyoming has fired two Trident missiles on September 17th.

image: US Navy/David Holmes
image US Navy/David Holmes

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