DOD Seeks Non-Nuclear Tridents

Converting a handful of the Navy’s nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles into conventionally armed weapons will give the Defense Department an important new capability, a senior defense official said Tuesday. The converted D5 submarine launched ballistic missiles would offer the capability to strike anywhere in the world in one hour with accuracies within 10 meters of a target after a flight of up to 6,000 miles. The Pentagon sees the weapons as being better than any currently available option (other than nuclear weapons) for destroying hardened and deeply buried targets. The speed at which they travel creates such enormous kinetic force that a warhead explosive is unnecessary. The “warheads” would be either a concrete “slug” or “slump” C or a flechette (steel rod). There still remains the problem of mistaken identity—other countries interpreting a launch as a nuclear ballistic missile—something that greatly concerns some lawmakers.