U.S. Navy Marks 50th Anniversary of First Submerged Launch of Fleet Ballistic Missile Built by Lockheed Martin
SUNNYVALE, Calif., 07/20/2010 --
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs' first underwater launch of a Fleet Ballistic Missile, which was designed and built by Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT]. The Polaris A1 missile successfully launched from the submerged USS George Washington (SSBN-598), the first ballistic missile submarine, July 20, 1960, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. This successful Navy test proved the capability of launching missiles from the natural protection of the deep sea, securing a strategic advantage to the nation.
In 1956, as part of a Navy-industry research and development effort, the first Fleet Ballistic Missile, Polaris A1, became a critical component of the U.S.'s strategic triad of defenses. A mere four years later, a 28,800-pound, two-stage ballistic missile with a range of 1,200 nautical miles, powered by solid fuel rocket motors and guided by an inertial guidance system, broke the surface of the water like never before.
"Launching the A1 missile was a significant accomplishment for the Navy and the nation," said Melanie A. Sloane, vice president of Fleet Ballistic Missile programs, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. "A submerged launch has several added technical challenges and considerations, such as launch tube environment, underwater current flow impacts and pressure differentials at various depths. Overcoming these challenges in concert with our Strategic Systems Programs partner, and evolving the capability over the past 50 years to today's Trident II D5 missile, is a national security mission we are proud to support."
Today's Trident II D5, a three-stage, solid-propellant, inertial-guided ballistic missile, travels a nominal distance of 4,000 nautical miles and carries multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles. The Navy has achieved 134 consecutive successful submerged test launches of the D5 missile since 1989 -- a record unmatched by any other large ballistic missile or space launch vehicle. The Trident missile is currently aboard OHIO-class submarines and British VANGUARD-class submarines patrolling international waters.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., has designed and produced six generations of Fleet Ballistic Missiles as the Navy's strategic missile prime contractor since program inception, including: Polaris A1, Polaris A2, Polaris A3, Poseidon C3, Trident I C4 and Trident II D5. Lockheed Martin Space Systems employees, principally in California, Georgia, Florida, Washington, Utah and Virginia, support the design, development, production, test, and operation and sustainment of the Trident Strategic Weapon System.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.