A submarine carrying Trident 2 ballistic missiles belonging to the British Royal Navy (Reuters)

Today, Wednesday, February 21, 2024, the British House of Commons awaits the appearance of Defense Minister Grant Shapps to inform representatives of the circumstances of the failed launch of the Trident missile that recently crashed in the Atlantic Ocean during military exercises.

The American-made Trident ballistic missile crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after it was launched from the British nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard during maneuvers that took place on January 30, 2024 off the east coast of the United States.

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Instead of flying thousands of miles before crashing into the South Atlantic, the nuclear-capable missile crashed into the sea near the launch site, where Defense Secretary Shapps was on board during the test with Royal Navy Commander Admiral Sir Ben Key.

The Trident deterrent system, based on submarines, launches long-range ballistic missiles that have not been successfully tested for some time.

According to the British newspaper "The Sun", "The Trident 2 missile was launched into the air using compressed gas in the launch tube, but its boosters in the first stage did not ignite and the 58-ton missile, equipped with dummy warheads, fell into the ocean and sank."

The HMS Vanguard ship was below the surface, hovering at launch depth, but was not hit by the nearly 14-meter-long missile as it fell back into the Atlantic Ocean.

The missile was scheduled to fly about 6,000 kilometers from the coast of Florida to the collision point in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and West Africa, but it failed and fell.

Immediately, an investigation was launched to find out what went wrong and a search was ordered to recover top-secret missile technology from the seabed at Port Canaveral, Florida.

This is the second failed launch in a row after a mistake that occurred in June 2016, when the Trident 2 missile launched from the HMS Vanguard deviated from its course and destroyed itself.

At the time, the government of former British Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of covering up the failed launch, as Parliament was scheduled to vote on renewing the UK's nuclear deterrent.

The target in the latest test was about 1,610 kilometers closer than the target of the failed launch in 2016, and less than half the declared range of the Trident 2 missile.

British launches are rare, because the cost of launching each missile exceeds 17 million pounds.

Despite what happened, officials confirm that Trident 2 is still one of the most reliable weapons systems in the world, having successfully completed more than 190 tests, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

MPs overwhelmingly backed a plan to spend £40bn on “modernizing nuclear deterrent systems”, meaning the aging fleet of Vanguard submarines is set to be replaced by Dreadnought-class successors in the 2030s.

Trident 2 ballistic missiles

The Trident 2 missiles are designed to rocket to the edge of space, reaching speeds of 21,000 kilometers per hour, before returning to Earth's atmosphere with a devastating payload of up to 12 nuclear warheads.

A senior German minister has suggested that the UK and France could play a larger role in Europe's nuclear shield if Donald Trump wins this year's US presidential election. https://t.co/2q8eZMpAKg

— euronews (@euronews) February 15, 2024

This type of missile entered service for the first time with the US Navy 34 years ago, before the British Royal Navy entered it 4 years later.

Despite the failed launches, Lockheed Martin, the missile's maker, insists that the Trident 2 missiles remain "the most advanced ballistic missiles in the world."

It said it had been successfully test-fired a “record” 191 times since 1989, most recently last September when the nuclear-powered submarine USS Louisiana performed a demonstration in the Pacific Ocean.

Britain has maintained a nuclear deterrent since 1967, with one of 4 nuclear-armed submarines patrolling at all times.

The United Kingdom has launched 12 Trident 2 missiles since the weapons entered service with the Royal Navy in 1994, but the last two missiles failed.

Vanguard submarines...the United Kingdom's "nuclear deterrent".

The United Kingdom has 4 Vanguard submarines, each of which is armed with Trident 2D5 nuclear missiles, which are among the most powerful nuclear missiles that can be launched from the sea. The United Kingdom considers them the “nuclear deterrent” it possesses and capable of protecting it from any military threat. .

These missiles can be launched at targets more than 6,000 kilometers away, and their speed reaches more than 21,000 kilometers per hour. These submarines carry 40 nuclear warheads and about 8 missiles to operate the nuclear warheads.

Vanguard submarines have a global sensor, described as "the British Navy's ear for the oceans", as it is a highly sensitive system capable of hearing ships more than 80 kilometers away.

These submarines are equipped with “Spearfish” torpedoes, which is a torpedo that weighs more than a ton and is capable of blowing up submarines and large ships. It can reach a target 22 kilometers away, and at low speed it increases to 48 kilometers.

Source: Al Jazeera + British press + websites