Author Topic: British Trident missile test veered off course towards the US  (Read 7803 times)

Offline Star One

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Widely reported in the U.K. media and not denied by our MOD.

Quote
The Sunday Times says an unarmed Trident missile fired from submarine HMS Vengeance near the Florida coast in June veered off course towards the US.
The paper says the incident took place weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the future of Trident.
The MoD did not give details of the test process but said it was a success.
In July, MPs backed the renewal of Trident by 472 votes to 117, approving the manufacture of four replacement submarines at a current estimated cost of £31bn.
According to the Sunday Times, it is expected that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will be called to the Commons to answer questions from MPs.
Vengeance, one of the UK's four Vanguard-class submarines, returned to sea for trials in December 2015 after a £350m refit, which included the installation of new missile launch equipment and upgraded computer systems.
The Sunday Times says the cause of the test firing failure remains top secret but quotes a senior naval source as saying the missile suffered an in-flight malfunction after launching out of the water.
The Trident II D5 missile, adds the paper, was intended to be fired 5,600 miles (9,012 km) to a sea target off the west coast of Africa.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38708823
« Last Edit: 01/23/2017 08:28 PM by Lar »

Offline anik

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Interesting that the word "consecutive" for Trident-2 successful launches has disappeared after press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2011/march/cLockheedMartin-BuiltTrid.html It was 135th successful launch in a row - on March 1, 2011. It was DASO-22 launch.

In press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/march/lockheed-martin-built-trident-ii-d5-missile-achieves-137th-succe.html said that it was 137th successful launch - on February 22, 2012. It was DASO-23 launch.

I see that there was FCET-44 launch sometime in 2011. So I think that there were two FCET-44 launches, not one. One of these launches was 136th successful and one was a failure.
« Last Edit: 01/22/2017 11:25 AM by anik »

Offline Star One

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Full damage control mode?

Quote
LONDON (Reuters) - A test firing of an unarmed British nuclear Trident missile from a submarine off the coast of Florida malfunctioned last June, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The paper quoted an unnamed senior naval source as saying the missile may have veered off in the wrong direction toward the American mainland.

The paper said it was the only test firing of a British nuclear missile in four years and came shortly before Theresa May became Prime Minister last year in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

It said May had omitted any mention of the failed test when she persuaded parliament to spend 40 billion pounds on new Trident submarines in her first major speech before parliament last July.

Parliament, which in 2007 agreed in principle to replace the deterrent system, last year voted to approve the building of four submarines to ensure Britain can have nuclear weapons continuously on patrol at sea.

Trident missiles have been test-fired only five times by UK submarines this century because they cost 17 million pounds ($21.03 million) apiece, the paper said.

May's office and Britain's Ministry of Defence said in a joint statement: "In June, the Royal Navy conducted a routine unarmed Trident missile test launch from HMS Vengeance, as part of an operation which is designed to certify the submarine and its crew.

"Vengeance and her crew were successfully tested and certified, allowing Vengeance to return into service. We have absolute confidence in our independent nuclear deterrent.

"We do not provide further details on submarine operations for obvious national security reasons."

(Reporting by Stephen Addison, editing by G Crosse)
https://www.yahoo.com/news/british-missile-test-malfunctioned-last-off-u-coast-000018600.html

Offline Skyrocket

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Interesting that the word "consecutive" for Trident-2 successful launches has dissapeared after press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2011/march/cLockheedMartin-BuiltTrid.html It was 135th successful launch in a row - on March 1, 2011. It was DASO-22 launch.

In press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/march/lockheed-martin-built-trident-ii-d5-missile-achieves-137th-succe.html said that it was 137th successful launch - on February 22, 2012. It was DASO-23 launch.

I see that there was FCET-44 launch sometime in 2011. So I think that there were two FCET-44 launches, not one. One of these launches was 136th successful and one was a failure.

Good point. That leaves also the possibility open, that there may have been more failed launches afterwards.

Offline Stan Black

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Interesting that the word "consecutive" for Trident-2 successful launches has disappeared after press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2011/march/cLockheedMartin-BuiltTrid.html It was 135th successful launch in a row - on March 1, 2011. It was DASO-22 launch.

In press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/march/lockheed-martin-built-trident-ii-d5-missile-achieves-137th-succe.html said that it was 137th successful launch - on February 22, 2012. It was DASO-23 launch.

I see that there was FCET-44 launch sometime in 2011. So I think that there were two FCET-44 launches, not one. One of these launches was 136th successful and one was a failure.

Good observation.

That word makes one final appearance:-
Quote
Lockheed Martin-Built Trident II D5 Missile Achieves 143 Successful Test FlightsÖ
Öwas the 10th consecutive successful Trident II D5 missile test flight by the U.K. since 1994
http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/october/1031-ss-trident.html

Offline Star One

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Interesting that the word "consecutive" for Trident-2 successful launches has disappeared after press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2011/march/cLockheedMartin-BuiltTrid.html It was 135th successful launch in a row - on March 1, 2011. It was DASO-22 launch.

In press-release http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/march/lockheed-martin-built-trident-ii-d5-missile-achieves-137th-succe.html said that it was 137th successful launch - on February 22, 2012. It was DASO-23 launch.

I see that there was FCET-44 launch sometime in 2011. So I think that there were two FCET-44 launches, not one. One of these launches was 136th successful and one was a failure.


Offline Eric Hedman

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I'm curious if the missile veered off course towards the US, Where did it land?  Or was a destruct signal sent to it?

Offline Star One

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I'm curious if the missile veered off course towards the US, Where did it land?  Or was a destruct signal sent to it?

I'd assume it was destroyed by the launch crew.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Is the British Trident the same as an USN Trident?

Offline Poole Amateur

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The missile is the same, the warhead is British.

Offline Star One

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Is the British Trident the same as an USN Trident?

They are pulled from the USN pool.

Offline SgtPoivre

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I'm curious if the missile veered off course towards the US, Where did it land?  Or was a destruct signal sent to it?

I'd assume it was destroyed by the launch crew.
Also I believe the original article talks only about "American mainland" which doesn't necessarily mean the US, does it?
« Last Edit: 01/23/2017 06:05 AM by SgtPoivre »

Offline RonM

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I'm curious if the missile veered off course towards the US, Where did it land?  Or was a destruct signal sent to it?

I'd assume it was destroyed by the launch crew.
Also I believe the original article talks only about "American mainland" which doesn't necessarily mean the US, does it?

"American" is used to refer to the USA. You would think that it would refer to the North American and South American continents, but that's not how the word is normally used.

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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(Could the title of this thread please be fixed? "Veered of course towards the US" is a bit misleading. Unless, off course, it was a politically motivated action...)
John Hanzl. Author, action / adventure www.johnhanzl.com

Offline Star One

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(Could the title of this thread please be fixed? "Veered of course towards the US" is a bit misleading. Unless, off course, it was a politically motivated action...)

I merely paraphrased what was in the original article I posted.

Offline Star One

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An unnamed official in the US has confirmed the test was a failure and the missile auto destructed.

Quote
Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported that the missile veered towards the US coast, but the US official told CNN that this trajectory was part of an automatic self-destruct sequence. The official said the missile diverted into the ocean -- an automatic procedure when missile electronics detect an anomaly.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/23/europe/trident-missile-failure-theresa-may/
« Last Edit: 01/23/2017 05:16 PM by Star One »

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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(Must.. not... say... anything...) gah - well that was disarming!
John Hanzl. Author, action / adventure www.johnhanzl.com

Offline Star One

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(Must.. not... say... anything...) gah - well that was disarming!

Corrected. Blame my iPhone auto correct.

Offline Jim

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US and British subs do test launches just off the coast of Florida on the Eastern Range.  The same range assets that monitor launches from CCAFS and KSC are used for support of these tests.  Additionally, there is a Launch Area Support Ship monitoring the launch.  Just like any rocket, if it goes off course, range safety takes care of it.  There was no danger to the US.  Just remember, this isn't the first time



    At 6:39


Offline Star One

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I've seen it suggested that there could have been a trajectory mismatch that caused it to auto destruct. How would something like that occur, human error?
« Last Edit: 01/23/2017 05:37 PM by Star One »

Online cwr

(Could the title of this thread please be fixed? "Veered of course towards the US" is a bit misleading. Unless, off course, it was a politically motivated action...)

I merely paraphrased what was in the original article I posted.

I believe the suggestion was to change the title to
"British Trident missile tests veered off course towards the US"

My emphasis shows the change that was intended [I believe].

"veered of course towards the US" means the Royal Navy deliberately fired at the US.
while
"veered off course towards the US" means the missile headed in the wrong direction
which I believe was the thrust of the original article and this thread.

While I'm at it "tests" in the title should also go to the singular since we're only talking about one missile in the June 2016 incident.


Carl

Offline Stan Black

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Iím curious about the wording in Lockheed Martinís press releases?
Quote
The missile was converted into a test configuration using a test missile kit produced by Lockheed Martin that contains range safety devices and flight telemetry instrumentation.
So is it only under test conditions they can terminate a flight?

Offline RonM

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Iím curious about the wording in Lockheed Martinís press releases?
Quote
The missile was converted into a test configuration using a test missile kit produced by Lockheed Martin that contains range safety devices and flight telemetry instrumentation.
So is it only under test conditions they can terminate a flight?

If you had to launch these missiles for a nuclear war, you don't want your opponent to be able to terminate the flight. It doesn't get more serious than nuclear deterrence and you can't risk espionage neutralizing your missiles.

Offline Jim

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Iím curious about the wording in Lockheed Martinís press releases?
Quote
The missile was converted into a test configuration using a test missile kit produced by Lockheed Martin that contains range safety devices and flight telemetry instrumentation.
So is it only under test conditions they can terminate a flight?

yes

Offline DavidH

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It made me think about something I hadn't before.
As with any system, and especially rockets, we know there must be some failure rate.
Does anyone know or have information regarding the expected/worst case failure rate in a full system deployment? Ie: if we somehow got to nuclear holocaust, how many would've never left our shores?
TL;DR
Keep your posts short if you want them to be read.

Offline Jim

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It made me think about something I hadn't before.
As with any system, and especially rockets, we know there must be some failure rate.
Does anyone know or have information regarding the expected/worst case failure rate in a full system deployment? Ie: if we somehow got to nuclear holocaust, how many would've never left our shores?

better than 90%.  The warheads won't go off during launch failures.  Interlocks based on air pressure and acceleration and  deceleration  will prevent it.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2017 01:59 PM by Jim »

Offline JasonAW3

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I believe the suggestion was to change the title to
"British Trident missile tests veered off course towards the US"

My emphasis shows the change that was intended [I believe].

"veered of course towards the US" means the Royal Navy deliberately fired at the US.

      Well, the Brits have been getting a might testy since Brexit! ;D
My God!  It's full of universes!

Offline Zed_Noir

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It made me think about something I hadn't before.
As with any system, and especially rockets, we know there must be some failure rate.
Does anyone know or have information regarding the expected/worst case failure rate in a full system deployment? Ie: if we somehow got to nuclear holocaust, how many would've never left our shores?

No one knows. The number of strategic delivery systems able to response to an authenticated strike order depends on several factors. First someone have to be able to issue the order. Second the order have to be transmitted to a launch facility. Third the delivery system have to be able to launched. Fourth the delivery system have to withstand possible counter-measures post-launch and transit to to target. How many delivery systems one side think can get to them from the other side is the level of perceived deterrence for the other side.

Strategic missiles are only a variable deterrence if periodically demonstrated to be functional  in all phases of operation. Of course minus the warhead. A fail launch like the Trident will reduce the perceived thread from that delivery system.

P.S. Think Jim is much more optimist than me in the number of delivery systems able to response to a strike order.

Offline RonM

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It made me think about something I hadn't before.
As with any system, and especially rockets, we know there must be some failure rate.
Does anyone know or have information regarding the expected/worst case failure rate in a full system deployment? Ie: if we somehow got to nuclear holocaust, how many would've never left our shores?

No one knows. The number of strategic delivery systems able to response to an authenticated strike order depends on several factors. First someone have to be able to issue the order. Second the order have to be transmitted to a launch facility. Third the delivery system have to be able to launched. Fourth the delivery system have to withstand possible counter-measures post-launch and transit to to target. How many delivery systems one side think can get to them from the other side is the level of perceived deterrence for the other side.

Strategic missiles are only a variable deterrence if periodically demonstrated to be functional  in all phases of operation. Of course minus the warhead. A fail launch like the Trident will reduce the perceived thread from that delivery system.

P.S. Think Jim is much more optimist than me in the number of delivery systems able to response to a strike order.

Since the topic is about a Trident veering off course, the pertinent question is the success rate of missiles launched. Failures in tests like these are rare, so a 90% success rate sounds reasonable.

In a response situation, as you wrote, how many missiles are able to be launched would be a much lower number.

Offline Jim

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P.S. Think Jim is much more optimist than me in the number of delivery systems able to response to a strike order.


I was looking at launch success, after the keys are turned.

Offline Toast

It made me think about something I hadn't before.
As with any system, and especially rockets, we know there must be some failure rate.
Does anyone know or have information regarding the expected/worst case failure rate in a full system deployment? Ie: if we somehow got to nuclear holocaust, how many would've never left our shores?

Jim's estimate of 90% sounds about right for modern systems. Older systems, not so much. If you haven't already read it, I would strongly recommend the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. Among other things, it dives into how weapons readiness and availability was exaggerated, especially during the early years of the Cold War. The SM-62 Snark in particular had absolutely abysmal reliability.

Offline edkyle99

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It made me think about something I hadn't before.
As with any system, and especially rockets, we know there must be some failure rate.
Does anyone know or have information regarding the expected/worst case failure rate in a full system deployment? Ie: if we somehow got to nuclear holocaust, how many would've never left our shores?

better than 90%.  The warheads won't go off during launch failures.  Interlocks based on air pressure and acceleration and  deceleration  will prevent it.
Agreed.  I would go so far as to expect a 98% or better missile launch rate success.  This is based on the flight history of Tridents and Minutemen over the years, and it includes performance right down to the target.  Warhead failures might add a percent or two. 

I've read about people, non-military types, who took detailed, hard looks at these systems - who looked at the missiles and watched them fly.  They shuddered when they realized - for certain - that it all wasn't a mirage.  This stuff will all actually work with horrifying effectiveness.  Not just the U.S. systems, but the Russians and others as well.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 01/25/2017 04:20 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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There's something simultaneously reassuring and worrisome about a rarely tested nuclear deterrent delivery system that might just cartwheel hilariously in its individual units and not make any significant contributions to doomsday, despite the overwhelming effectiveness of the system at large.

I can assume US, UK and French ballistic missile reliability is slightly ahead of any foreign counterparts that might prospectively be lobbing missiles back at them. Would be (academically) interesting to see the failure margin if such a - catastrophic - event was ever to occur. On such an occasion, how many missiles would experience launch failures? Twenty? Fifty?
« Last Edit: 01/25/2017 09:46 PM by The Amazing Catstronaut »
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Offline Jim

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There's something simultaneously reassuring and worrisome about a rarely tested nuclear deterrent delivery system that might just cartwheel hilariously in its individual units and not make any significant contributions to doomsday, despite the overwhelming effectiveness of the system at large.



They aren't "rarely" tested.  There have been over 150 Trident II test flights..


I can assume US, UK and French ballistic missile reliability is slightly ahead of any foreign counterparts that might prospectively be lobbing missiles back at them. Would be (academically) interesting to see the failure margin if such a - catastrophic - event was ever to occur. On such an occasion, how many missiles would experience launch failures? Twenty? Fifty?

Less than 5%
 

Offline Toast

On such an occasion, how many missiles would experience launch failures? Twenty? Fifty?
Less than 5%

And to mitigate any potential failures (or intercepted missiles, bombers, etc.), the US nuclear targeting strategy (and presumably that of other nations, as well) involves a fair bit of overkill, with virtually every significant target assigned multiple warheads to ensure its destruction.
« Last Edit: 01/27/2017 11:03 PM by Toast »

Online Yeknom-Ecaps

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Additionally, there is a Launch Area Support Ship monitoring the launch. 


Is there a list of Launch Area Support Ships? Assume these are not USCGC ships but "tracking" type of ship - true? Are they stationed at Patrick AFB or somewhere else?

Offline Jim

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USNS Waters (T-AGS-45)  Not a tracking ship
Port Canaveral

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