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British Trident missile veered of course towards the US during test firing

Flyaway

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

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
 

Grey Havoc

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The Government is now in damage control mode:
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
 

TomS

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Given that the Trident missiles come from a common pool maintained by the USN, a failure after launch doesn't really reflect on the RN crew or submarine.
 

Hood

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The previous test was 23 October 2012. Anyone who has read Prof Peter Hennessy and Dr James Jinks' The Silent Deep will have seen the in-depth discussion of that event.

As usual the press knows only half the story and spins it out. These tests are part of the mid-life Long Overhaul Period and Refuel each Vanguard Class sub goes through, the test itself is the Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO). There have only been four of these, one for each sub as they completed their mid-life refits.

As the Tridents come from a joint pool the problem is as much worrying for the USN as the RN, though it is proof that no rocket/missile system can ever been 100% reliable. Considering the failures the Soviets had (missiles falling back onto subs etc.) its not quite in that league.
 

Flyaway

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Hood said:
The previous test was 23 October 2012. Anyone who has read Prof Peter Hennessy and Dr James Jinks' The Silent Deep will have seen the in-depth discussion of that event.

As usual the press knows only half the story and spins it out. These tests are part of the mid-life Long Overhaul Period and Refuel each Vanguard Class sub goes through, the test itself is the Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO). There have only been four of these, one for each sub as they completed their mid-life refits.

As the Tridents come from a joint pool the problem is as much worrying for the USN as the RN, though it is proof that no rocket/missile system can ever been 100% reliable. Considering the failures the Soviets had (missiles falling back onto subs etc.) its not quite in that league.

But a missile that suddenly starts to head back towards where it has effectively come from I would think is a major concern?
 

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Hood said:
As the Tridents come from a joint pool the problem is as much worrying for the USN as the RN, though it is proof that no rocket/missile system can ever been 100% reliable.

There's speculation the leak (to a Murdoch rag) could have been the new USG. This failure plays to their policies.
 

TomS

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Flyaway said:
But a missile that suddenly starts to head back towards where it has effectively come from I would think is a major concern?

All that line means is that the missile veered westward after it cleared the surface. Range safety would have destroyed it before it posed any hazard. (And it should go without saying that test shots have only dummy warheads.)
 

Arjen

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Gridlock said:
Hood said:
As the Tridents come from a joint pool the problem is as much worrying for the USN as the RN, though it is proof that no rocket/missile system can ever been 100% reliable.

There's speculation the leak (to a Murdoch rag) could have been the new USG. This failure plays to their policies.
If anything as adventurous as that were to surface, it would be harmful.
 

Flyaway

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Someone over at the NS forum has spotted this.

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.
 

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/22/theresa-may-refuses-say-whether-aware-trident-nuclear-missile/
 

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Gridlock said:
Hood said:
As the Tridents come from a joint pool the problem is as much worrying for the USN as the RN, though it is proof that no rocket/missile system can ever been 100% reliable.

There's speculation the leak (to a Murdoch rag) could have been the new USG. This failure plays to their policies.
Source?
 

marauder2048

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Seems odd that DASO-27 would have been allowed to proceed, from the same test range no less, a mere 2 months later.
 

marauder2048

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Sounding more like a "no-test": range destruct due to telemetry mismatch with nominal mission trajectory profile.
 

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sferrin

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marauder2048 said:
Seems odd that DASO-27 would have been allowed to proceed, from the same test range no less, a mere 2 months later.

Why?
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
marauder2048 said:
Seems odd that DASO-27 would have been allowed to proceed, from the same test range no less, a mere 2 months later.

Why?

Because the failure response team typically freezes all of the test assets (which are considerable for an FBM test) until
the failure review board can convene and give at least a preliminary indication of the cause.

But since this doesn't look like a test failure, in the formal sense, DASO-27 was allowed to proceed.
 

sferrin

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marauder2048 said:
sferrin said:
marauder2048 said:
Seems odd that DASO-27 would have been allowed to proceed, from the same test range no less, a mere 2 months later.

Why?

Because the failure response team typically freezes all of the test assets (which are considerable for an FBM test) until
the failure review board can convene and give at least a preliminary indication of the cause.

But since this doesn't look like a test failure, in the formal sense, DASO-27 was allowed to proceed.

What kind of failure was it then? ???
 

starviking

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sferrin said:
marauder2048 said:
sferrin said:
marauder2048 said:
Seems odd that DASO-27 would have been allowed to proceed, from the same test range no less, a mere 2 months later.

Why?

Because the failure response team typically freezes all of the test assets (which are considerable for an FBM test) until
the failure review board can convene and give at least a preliminary indication of the cause.

But since this doesn't look like a test failure, in the formal sense, DASO-27 was allowed to proceed.

What kind of failure was it then? ???

It surely has to be something quite obvious - range safety cock-up, incorrect launch navigation data, or an incident the missile pre-launch that was reported/noted but not thought to be serious.
 

marauder2048

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starviking said:
What kind of failure was it then? ???

It surely has to be something quite obvious - range safety cock-up, incorrect launch navigation data, or an incident the missile pre-launch that was reported/noted but not thought to be serious.
[/quote]

Winds in excess of predictions that pushed the missile outside of the corridor.
 

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/22/defence-secretary-sir-michael-fallon-face-mps-trident-missile/
 

Gridlock

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bobbymike said:
Gridlock said:
Hood said:
As the Tridents come from a joint pool the problem is as much worrying for the USN as the RN, though it is proof that no rocket/missile system can ever been 100% reliable.

There's speculation the leak (to a Murdoch rag) could have been the new USG. This failure plays to their policies.
Source?

Well, it's speculation, there is no source in that sense.

The source of the speculation in this case is here (a thread);

https://twitter.com/alphanonpro/status/823095567182077952

A non-proliferation academic.
 

sferrin

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marauder2048 said:
starviking said:
What kind of failure was it then? ???

It surely has to be something quite obvious - range safety cock-up, incorrect launch navigation data, or an incident the missile pre-launch that was reported/noted but not thought to be serious.

Winds in excess of predictions that pushed the missile outside of the corridor.
[/quote]

Huh. I'd think an SLBM would be designed to cope with winds as they wouldn't have the luxury of waiting for good weather in a war.
 

sferrin

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starviking said:
It surely has to be something quite obvious - range safety cock-up, incorrect launch navigation data, or an incident the missile pre-launch that was reported/noted but not thought to be serious.

Yeah.
 

bobbymike

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Gridlock said:
bobbymike said:
Gridlock said:
Hood said:
As the Tridents come from a joint pool the problem is as much worrying for the USN as the RN, though it is proof that no rocket/missile system can ever been 100% reliable.

There's speculation the leak (to a Murdoch rag) could have been the new USG. This failure plays to their policies.
Source?

Well, it's speculation, there is no source in that sense.

The source of the speculation in this case is here (a thread);

https://twitter.com/alphanonpro/status/823095567182077952

A non-proliferation academic.
So absolutely ZERO actual evidence.
 

RLBH

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sferrin said:
marauder2048 said:
starviking said:
What kind of failure was it then? ???

It surely has to be something quite obvious - range safety cock-up, incorrect launch navigation data, or an incident the missile pre-launch that was reported/noted but not thought to be serious.

Winds in excess of predictions that pushed the missile outside of the corridor.

Huh. I'd think an SLBM would be designed to cope with winds as they wouldn't have the luxury of waiting for good weather in a war.
[/quote]
Safety margins acceptable in wartime may not be acceptable in a peacetime test. And even in wartime, there's bound to be a hard limit somewhere in the system.
 

Flyaway

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

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/
 

marauder2048

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

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/

Autonomous flight termination?
 

Byeman

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Yes, the Eastern Range is incorporating this type of system.

There is a lot to do about nothing going on here.
 

marauder2048

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Byeman said:
Yes, the Eastern Range is incorporating this type of system.

There is a lot to do about nothing going on here.

Thanks. My guess was that the detected anomaly would have had no operational impact.
 

Byeman

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marauder2048 said:
Byeman said:
Yes, the Eastern Range is incorporating this type of system.

There is a lot to do about nothing going on here.

Thanks. My guess was that the detected anomaly would have had no operational impact.

Yes, as in not impacting the target. The flight was terminated because it was off course. There would be no other reason to terminate the flight.

The "lot to do about nothing going on here" meaning that these systems have occasional failures. That is why targets have more than one warhead assigned to them
 

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....and a lot of the noise generated in the UK is from CND minded Labour supporters/MPs playing politics and SNP who vomit blood every time Trident is mentioned.

For the rest, it's just media looking for a big story where there is none.
 

Hood

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The big noise is the attempted political cover-up to pretend nothing happened. At the very worst the allegation is that the news was buried to influence the Commons vote on the Successor Class and the Trident renewal, at the least it shows the entrenched secrecy within the Government and the resulting red-faces from May and Fallon who look like incompetent nincompoops yet again.

The big noise for the anti-nuclear/anti-Trident body is that the system is unsafe and/or useless because of one minor failure. The amount of comment and speculation clearly shows many people know nothing of how these weapon systems work. I think this reflects how poorly informed people are about technology generally, they can barely work out how complicated everyday items like smartphones work, let alone a complex rocket system. Generally the word 'Trident' is guaranteed emotive clickbait for the media and politcians (plot spoiler: don't read the Guardian editorial view on Trident if you're pro-Trident or pro-nuclear deterrent).

I suspect if the story had not broken in the Times then the US government wouldn't have advertised it either and if it had been launched from a US sub then the British media wouldn't have made a big deal from it.
 

mrmalaya

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...and anyway I have never understood the link between the supposed "cover up" of a missile test failure and the pro-Trident government trying to influence the vote on it's replacement.

Is the argument supposed to be that the missiles are shonky and if parliament had known this, the vote would have been to scrap them?
 

kaiserd

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mrmalaya said:
...and anyway I have never understood the link between the supposed "cover up" of a missile test failure and the pro-Trident government trying to influence the vote on it's replacement.

Is the argument supposed to be that the missiles are shonky and if parliament had known this, the vote would have been to scrap them?

Without getting political the issue is mainly of posturing and perception.
Even if the "failed" test had been disclosed before the vote the vote would still have been won by a large majority, as such disclosure or non-disclosure was essentially immaterial.
The opponents of the Trident renewal want to use this test and its non-disclosure to embarrass those that voted for renewal while the non-disclosure (while having a historic precedents and an arguable defendable basis) also speaks of a new prime minister and her people perhaps being a bit too keen to ensure a first "clean" political "win".
 

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