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News | Sept. 28, 2023

USS Louisiana Proves Readiness of Unmatched Strategic Weapons System

By April Crew-Kelly

SAN DIEGO - The U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs conducted a scheduled, missile test flight of an unarmed life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missile from USS Louisiana (SSBN-743), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, on the Western Test Range off the coast of San Diego, California, at approximately 2:10 p.m. yesterday.

Photo depicts crew of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) during Demonstration and Shakedown Operation-32 (DASO-32) demonstrating launching procedures for visitors aboard the submarine. Two crew members stand side by side using communications tools.
SLIDESHOW | 4 images | 230925-N-SN516-1142 PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 28, 2023) - U.S. Navy Cmdr. Michael Kessler, commanding officer, left, and Lt. Cmdr. Chris Eggers, executive officer, right, demonstrate launching procedures for embarked distinguished visitors and media aboard the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) during Demonstration and Shakedown Operation-32 (DASO-32) in the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 25, 2023. DASO-32 is the last DASO conducted by an Ohio-class SSBN coming out of engineering refueling overhaul (ERO), marking the completion of all post-ERO DASOs for the Ohio-class. The Trident II D5LE strategic weapon system is the system that will provide the initial SWS capability for the Columbia-class SSBN. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Negron)

This test marks 191 successful missile launches of the Trident II (D5 & D5LE) strategic weapon system (SWS) missile since it began operations in 1989. Trident II missile remains unmatched in its reliability.

"I am immensely proud of the government-industry team," said VADM Johnny Wolfe, Jr., Director of Strategic Systems Programs. "The completion of DASO-32 marks an historic milestone in the life of the Trident II D5 weapons system, and provides the SSP team with a tangible reminder of the great responsibility before us—sustain this unmatched weapons system while developing the next generation strategic weapons system to ensure our nation's sea-based strategic deterrence capability through 2084."
This was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO-32.  DASO-32 is the last DASO conducted by an Ohio-class SSBN coming out of Engineering Refuel Overhaul (ERO). The primary objective of a DASO is to evaluate and demonstrate the readiness of the SSBN's strategic weapon system and crew before operational deployment following the submarine's midlife refueling overhaul or as part of new construction.
The Trident II (D5) SWS is a highly accurate and reliable weapon system that has been actively deployed on Ohio-class SSBNs since its introduction to operational deployment on USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) in 1990.  It is the deployed system for the remaining service life of U.S Ohio-class and United Kingdom Vanguard-class SSBNs, and is the initial loadout for the U.S. Columbia-class and U.K. Dreadnought-class SSBNs.
Test launches are conducted on a recurring basis to evaluate and ensure the continued reliability and accuracy of the strategic weapon system. Each test provides valuable information about our strategic weapon systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities.
The Navy's last DASO was in October 2021 off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, from USS WYOMING (SSBN-742). The Navy's most recent flight test—a Follow-on Commander's Evaluation Test—was a series of two missile launches from USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) in June 2023 also off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Flight test missiles are not armed. Safety of the public and the crew conducting the mission is paramount.  Today's launch was conducted from sea, the missile flew over the sea, and landed in the sea.  At no time did the missile fly over land. 
The missile test was not conducted in response to any ongoing world events or as a demonstration of power. Test launches, including DASOs, are scheduled years in advance.
Strategic Systems Programs is the Navy command that provides cradle-to-grave lifecycle support for the Navy's strategic weapon systems.  This includes training, systems, equipment, facilities and personnel responsible for ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nation's Submarine

Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Trident II (D5LE) strategic weapon system. In addition to maintaining the current Trident II (D5LE) strategic weapons system, Strategic Systems Programs is looking towards the future. Nuclear modernization is crucial to the continued success of the U.S.'s sea based strategic deterrent. Strategic Systems Programs is developing the next generation strategic weapon system, and modernizing shore-based infrastructure and capabilities to sustain the Ohio-class to end of life and support Columbia-class fleet introduction.
SLBMs are the sea-based leg of the nation's strategic nuclear deterrent Triad that also includes the U.S. Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and nuclear-capable bombers.  Each part of the Triad provides unique capabilities and advantages.   
The sea-based leg makes up the majority - approximately 70 percent - of the U.S.'s deployed strategic nuclear deterrent Triad. The SLBM is the most survivable leg of the triad, provides a persistent presence, and allows for flexible concepts of operations.
A credible, effective nuclear deterrent is essential to our national security and the security of U.S. allies. Deterrence remains a cornerstone of national security policy in the 21st century.