The US Navy is test-firing and upgrading its arsenal of Trident II D5 nuclear-armed submarine launched missiles designed to keep international peace — by ensuring and undersea-fired second-strike ability in the event of a catastrophic nuclear first strike on the US.

Firing from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida Aug. 31, a specially configured non-armed “test” version of the missile was fired from the Navy’s USS Maryland. This was the 161st successful Trident II launch since design completion in 1989.

The missile was converted into a test configuration using a test missile kit produced by Lockheed Martin that contains range safety devices, tracking systems and flight telemetry instrumentation, a Lockheed statement said.

The Trident II D5 missile is deployed aboard U.S. Navy Ohio-class submarines and Royal Navy Vanguard-class to deter nuclear aggression. The three-stage ballistic missile can travel a nominal range of 4,000 nautical miles and carry multiple independently targeted reentry bodies.

The U.S. and UK are collaboratively working on a common missile compartment for their next generation SSBNs, or ballistic missile submarines.

The 130,000-pound Trident II D5 missile can travel 20,000-feet per second, according to Navy figures. The missiles cost $30 million each.

The “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” futher describes the weapon — “The Trident D5s carry three types of warheads: the 100-kiloton W76/Mk-4, the 100-kiloton W76-1/Mk-4A, and the 455-kiloton W88/Mk-5 warhead, the highest-yield ballistic missile warhead in the U.S. arsenal.”

Read More: National Interest

Featured Image – US Navy

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