On Monday, the U.S. Navy confirmed it had followed Saturday night’s launch of a Trident II (D5) missile from the U.S.S. Kentucky, a ballistic submarine in the Pacific Ocean, with a second launch Monday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Saturday night’s missile, which left a bluish-green plume in its wake, triggered speculation among witnesses on the ground that a UFO had visited the West Coast. The Daily Mail reported that the launch, and associated military exercises, forced aircraft at LAX to take alternative routes for a week.
The navy had remained tight-lipped about the timing of missile launches; John M. Daniels, spokesman for the Strategic Systems Programs office, which supervises the Navy’s nuclear-tipped missile arsenal, said, “It’s important that we test these missiles for our national security. We don’t announce future launches, but this is it for any time soon.”
The launches are part of the demonstration and shakedown operation, or DASO, process; that process tests the readiness of a submarine’s crew and strategic weapons. Cmdr. Ryan Perry of the Navy’s Third Fleet stated, “Each test activity provides valuable information about our systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Daniels stated that photos and video of the launches may be posted later.
The Navy has 14 ballistic submarines. Each holds 24 Trident missiles, which can carry targetable thermonuclear warheads. The Tridents are tested annually off the West Coast as well as off the East Coast near florida.
Each missile costs $31 million missile; 150 launches of the Lockheed Martin product have been tried since 1989. The missile has a range of 4,000 nautical miles.
Saturday’s launch targeted a dummy warhead toward the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Military Times reported that on Saturday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter talked tough in front of attendees at a defense forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, warning, “Most disturbing, Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to the brandishing of nuclear weapons.”
He huffed, “We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia. We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake: the United States will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all.”