U.S. admiral: "The point is we can do the job with 12 Ohio-class SSBNS -- but no less"Michael Fabey, AEROSPACE DAILY & DEFENSE REPORT
21 March 2016
An Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine assigned to Submarine Group 10 completed a test earlier this month that included the launch of three unarmed Trident II D5 missiles, U.S. Navy officials say.
The so-called Follow-on Commander’s Evaluation Test (FCET-52) spanned a three-day period and marked the 158th, 159th, and 160th successful test flights of the Trident II D5 missile, the Navy says. At no time did the missiles fly over land.
Strategic weapons tests, exercises and operations such as FCET-52 demonstrate the readiness of the submarine-launched Trident II missile, the Navy says.
“With weapons onboard that allow us to strike from almost anywhere in the world, the stealth design of our submarines makes finding an SSBN an almost impossible task,” says Rear Adm. Charles Richard, director of the Undersea Warfare Division. “Our regular and routine missile flight tests provide reassurance to our allies and warning to our potential adversaries that our weapons will do their job if ever called to do so.”
The Navy has performed this mission with 14 Ohio-class SSBNs, and the planned Ohio replacement SSBN will meet the same mission requirements with only 12 submarines, he says.
“The point is we can do the job with 12 Ohio replacement SSBNs – but no less,” Richard says.
But the Navy needs to keep the current fleet afloat and on patrol. “We have prioritized the funding needed to maintain our SSBNs for the rest of their extended service life,” he says. “Last year, the Navy added $2.2 billion to the budget to build margin into our force.
Additional workers have been hired to match shipyard workforce size to actual workload. There were focused efforts to sustain and recapitalize the shipyards and strategic weapons facilities as well as improving the capacity of our Trident training facilities to keep crew’s proficient.”