The U.S. Navy’s USS Kentucky (SSBN-737), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, launched an unarmed Trident missile as part of a test over the weekend in the Pacific Ocean.
The Pentagon released a statement late Saturday confirming the scheduled test flight of the Trident II (D5) missile in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of southern California.
The exercise, conducted by Navy Strategic Systems Programs, was “part of a scheduled, ongoing system evaluation test. Launches are conducted on a frequent, recurring basis to ensure the continued reliability of the system. Each test activity provides valuable information about our systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities,” it stated.
“The missile was not armed. Strategic Systems Programs does not routinely announce missile testing,” it continued. “Information regarding the test launch of Trident II (D5) missiles is classified prior to the launch.”
The statement was apparently designed to curb speculation on social media that the object was a meteorite or even an unidentified flying object, or UFO (see image below.
The Kentucky is armed with 24 UGM-133 Trident II ballistic missiles, along with Mk-48 torpedoes. Each of the missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp. measures more than 44 feet long and 6 feet wide, has an operational range of more than 7,400 miles and can carry as many as 14 thermonuclear warheads.
The Navy is upgrading its arsenal of Trident II D5 nuclear missiles to extend their service life for 25 more years aboard the nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet, service leaders have said.