Trident (UK nuclear programme)
Trident, also known as the Trident nuclear programme or Trident nuclear deterrent, covers the development, procurement and operation of nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom and their means of delivery. Its purpose as stated by the Ministry of Defence is to "deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life, which cannot be done by other means". Trident is an operational system of four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads from multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). It is operated by the Royal Navy and based at Clyde Naval Base on the west coast of Scotland. At least one submarine is always on patrol to provide a continuous at-sea capability. Each one carries up to eight missiles and forty warheads, although their capacity is higher. The missiles are manufactured in the United States, while the warheads are British.
|Type of project||Deployment of Trident ballistic missile submarines|
The British government initially negotiated with the Carter administration for the purchase of the Trident I C-4 missile. In 1981, the Reagan administration announced its decision to upgrade its Trident to the new Trident II D-5 missile. This necessitated another round of negotiations and concessions. The UK Trident programme was announced in July 1980 and patrols began in December 1994. Trident replaced the submarine-based Polaris system, in operation from 1968 until 1996. Trident is the only nuclear weapon system operated by the UK since the decommissioning of tactical WE.177 free-fall bombs in 1998.
NATO's military posture was relaxed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Trident's missiles were "detargetted" in 1994 ahead of the maiden voyage of the first Vanguard-class boat, meaning that the warheads are not aimed at specific targets, but await co-ordinates that can be programmed into their computers and fired with several days' notice. Although Trident was designed as a strategic deterrent, the end of the Cold War led the British government to conclude that a sub-strategic—but not tactical—role was required.
A programme for the replacement of the Vanguard class is under way. On 18 July 2016 the House of Commons voted by a large majority to proceed with building a fleet of Dreadnought-class submarines, to be operational by 2028, with the current fleet completely phased out by 2032.
During the early part of the Second World War, Britain had a nuclear weapons project, code-named Tube Alloys, which the 1943 Quebec Agreement merged with the American Manhattan Project to create a combined American, British, and Canadian project. The British government expected that the United States would continue to share nuclear technology, which it regarded as a joint discovery, but the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (McMahon Act) ended technical co-operation. Fearing a resurgence of United States isolationism, and Britain losing its great power status, the British government resumed its own development effort. The first British atomic bomb was tested in Operation Hurricane on 3 October 1952. The subsequent British development of the hydrogen bomb, and a fortuitous international relations climate created by the Sputnik crisis, facilitated the amendment of the McMahon Act, and the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA), which allowed Britain to acquire nuclear weapons systems from the United States, thereby restoring the nuclear Special Relationship.
During the 1950s, Britain's nuclear deterrent was based around the V-bombers of the Royal Air Force (RAF), but developments in radar and surface-to-air missiles made it clear that bombers were becoming increasingly vulnerable, and would be unlikely to penetrate Soviet airspace by the mid-1970s. To address this problem, the United Kingdom embarked on the development of a Medium Range Ballistic Missile called Blue Streak, but concerns were raised about its own vulnerability, and the British government decided to cancel it and acquire the American Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile. In return, the Americans were given permission to base the US Navy's Polaris boats at Holy Loch in Scotland. In November 1962, the American government decided to cancel Skybolt. The President, John F. Kennedy, and the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, then negotiated the Nassau Agreement, under which the US would sell to the UK, Polaris systems for UK-built submarines. This was formalised in the Polaris Sales Agreement.
The first British Polaris ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), HMS Resolution, was laid down by Vickers-Armstrongs at its yard at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria on 26 February 1964. She was launched on 15 September 1965, commissioned on 2 October 1967, and conducted a test firing at the American Eastern Range on 15 February 1968. She was followed by HMS Repulse, which was completed by Vickers-Armstrongs on 29 September 1968; and two boats built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead: HMS Renown, which was completed on 15 November 1968; and HMS Revenge, which was completed on 4 December 1969. The four Resolution-class boats were based at HMNB Clyde at Faslane on the Firth of Clyde, not far from the US Navy's base at Holy Loch, which opened in August 1968. It was served by a weapons store at nearby RNAD Coulport. HM Dockyard, Rosyth, was designated as the refit yard for the 10th Submarine Squadron, as the Polaris boats became operational.
Polaris proved to be reliable, and its second-strike capability conferred greater strategic flexibility than any previous British nuclear weapons system; but it had a limited lifespan, and was expected to become obsolete by the 1990s. It was considered vital that an independent British deterrent could penetrate existing and future Soviet anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities. A powerful ABM system, the ABM-1 Galosh, defended Moscow, and NATO believed the USSR would continue to develop its effectiveness. The deterrent logic required the ability to threaten the destruction of the Soviet capital and other major cities. To ensure that a credible and independent nuclear deterrent was maintained, the UK developed an improved front end codenamed Chevaline, which replaced one of the three warheads in a Polaris missile with multiple decoys, chaff, and other defensive countermeasures. Chevaline was extremely expensive; it encountered many of the same issues that had affected the British nuclear weapons projects of the 1950s, and postponed but did not avert Polaris's obsolescence.
The Conservative Party had a strong pro-defence stance, and supported the British nuclear weapons programme, although not necessarily at the expense of conventional weapons. The rival Labour Party had initiated the acquisition of nuclear weapons, but in the late 1950s its left wing pushed for a policy of nuclear disarmament, resulting in an ambiguous stance. While in office from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1979, it built and maintained Polaris, and modernised it through the secret Chevaline programme. While out of office in 1980, 1981 and 1982, it adopted a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament.
More important than political differences was a shared sense of British national identity. Britain was seen as a pivotal player in world affairs, its economic and military weaknesses offset by its membership of the European Union, NATO and the Group of Seven, its permanent seat on the UN Security Council, its leadership of the Commonwealth of Nations, and, above all, the nuclear Special Relationship with the United States. To accept a position of inferiority to its ancient rival, France, was unthinkable. Moreover, Britain was perceived as being more enlightened than other countries, a force for good in the world with a moral duty to intervene, with military force if need be, to defend not just its interests, but its values. By the 1980s, possession of nuclear weapons was considered a visible sign of Britain's enduring status as a great power in spite of the loss of the British Empire, and had become a component of the national self-image.
The Cabinet Secretary, Sir John Hunt briefed Cabinet on Polaris on 28 November 1977, noting that a possible successor might take up to 15 years to bring into service, depending on the nature of system chosen, and whether it was to be developed by the United Kingdom, or in collaboration with France or the United States. With the recent experience of Chevaline in mind, the option of a purely British project was rejected. A study of the options was commissioned in February 1978 from a group chaired by the Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, Sir Antony Duff, with the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Ronald Mason. The Duff-Mason Report was delivered to the Prime Minister, James Callaghan, in parts on 11 and 15 December. It recommended the purchase of the American Trident I C-4 missile then in service with the US Navy. The C-4 had multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) capability, which was needed to overcome the Soviet anti-ballistic missile defences.
Callaghan approached President Jimmy Carter in January 1979, who responded positively, but non-committally. The Carter administration's main priority was the SALT II Agreement with the Soviet Union, which limited nuclear weapons stockpiles. It was signed on 18 June 1979, but Carter faced an uphill battle to secure its ratification by the United States Senate. MIRV technology had proved to be a major loophole in the 1972 SALT I Agreement, which limited numbers of missiles but not warheads. During the SALT II negotiations the US had resisted Soviet proposals to include the British and French nuclear forces in the agreement, but there were concerns that supplying MIRV technology to the UK would be seen by the Soviets as violating the spirit of the non-circumvention clause in SALT II.
Callaghan was succeeded by Margaret Thatcher after the general election on 3 May 1979, and she discussed the issue with Carter in October, who agreed to supply C-4, but he asked that the UK delay a formal request until December in order that he could get SALT II ratified beforehand. In the meantime, the MDA, without which the UK would not be able to access US nuclear weapons technology, was renewed for five more years on 5 December, and the MISC 7 cabinet committee formally approved the decision to purchase C-4 the following day.[note 1] When Thatcher met with Carter again on 17 December, he still asked for more time, but the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on 24 December ended all hope of Senate ratification of SALT II, clearing the way for the sale to proceed.
The British government hoped that Trident could be secured on the same terms as Polaris, but when its chief negotiator, Robert Wade-Gery, sat down with his American counterpart, David L. Aaron, in March 1980, he found this was not the case. Instead of the 5 per cent levy on the cost of equipment supplied in recognition of US research and development (R&D) costs that had already been incurred that Kennedy had agreed to in the Polaris Sales Agreement, which would have been about $100 million, a 1976 law now required a pro rata fixed fee payment, which in this case came to around $400 million.
The law could be waived if the President determined that it was in the interest of the United States to do so, but for that the Carter administration wanted undertakings that the UK would raise defence spending by the same amount, or pay the cost of US forces manning Rapier batteries and Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) sites in the UK. On 2 June 1980, Thatcher and the United States Secretary of Defense, Harold Brown, agreed to $2.5 billion for the C-4 missile system, plus a 5 per cent R&D levy, British personnel for the Rapier batteries, and an expansion of the US base on Diego Garcia, which had assumed great importance since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Secretary of State for Defence, Francis Pym, informed Cabinet of the decision to purchase Trident on 15 July 1980, and announced it in the House of Commons later that day. The agreement was effected by amending the Polaris Sales Agreement, changing "Polaris" to "Trident".
However, on 4 November 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president. Part of his election platform was to modernise the US strategic nuclear forces. On 24 August 1981, the Reagan administration informed the British government of its intention to upgrade its Trident to the new Trident II D-5 missile by 1989, and indicated that it was willing to sell it to the UK. Despite the name, the D-5 was not an improved version of the C-4, but a completely new missile. Its purchase had already been considered in the Duff-Mason report, but had been rejected, as its additional capability—the extended range from 4,000 to 6,000 nautical miles (7,400 to 11,100 km)—was not required by the UK, and it was more expensive. Exactly how much more expensive was uncertain, as it was still under development. At the same time, the British government was well aware of the costs of not having the same hardware as the US. Nor did the Reagan administration promise to sell D-5 on the same terms as the C-4. To pay for Trident, the British government announced deep cuts to other defence spending on 25 June 1981.
Negotiations commenced on 8 February, with the British team again led by Wade-Gery. The Americans were disturbed at the proposed British defence cuts, and pressed for an undertaking that the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible be retained in service, which they felt was necessary to avert trouble over the Belizean–Guatemalan territorial dispute. They accepted a counter-offer that Britain would retain the two landing platform dock ships, HMS Fearless and Intrepid, for which the Americans reduced the R&D charge. Under the agreement, the UK would purchase 65 Trident II D-5 missiles that would operate as part of a shared pool of weapons based at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in the United States. The US would maintain and support the missiles, while the UK would manufacture its own submarines and warheads to go on the missiles. The warheads and missiles would be mated in the UK. This was projected to save about £500 million over eight years at Coulport, while the Americans spent $70 million upgrading the facilities at Kings Bay. The sale agreement was formally signed on 19 October 1982 by the British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Oliver Wright, and the United States Secretary of State, George Shultz.
The Trident programme was projected to cost £5 billion, including the four submarines, the missiles, new facilities at Coulport and Faslane and the five per cent contribution to Trident II D-5 R&D. It was expected to absorb 5 per cent of the defence budget. As with Polaris, the option for a fifth submarine (allowing two to be on patrol at all times) was discussed, but ultimately rejected. Thatcher's popularity soared as a result of the British victory in the Falklands War, in which the ships that the Americans had insisted be retained played a crucial part. Trident's future was secured the following year when the Conservative Party won the 1983 general election, defeating a Labour Party that had pledged to cancel Trident. The first Trident boat, HMS Vanguard was ordered on 30 April 1986. In view of the Labour Party's continued opposition to Trident, Vickers insisted that the contract include substantial compensation in the event of cancellation.
UK nuclear policyEdit
The Trident programme was initiated during the Cold War, and its capabilities were designed to deter the powerful Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies in Europe. It was designed to provide an ongoing independently-controlled deterrent against major threats to the security of the UK and its NATO allies, including threats posed by non-nuclear weapons.
To provide an effective deterrent, the Trident system was intended to "pose a potential threat to key aspects of Soviet state power" whilst being invulnerable to a surprise or pre-emptive nuclear strike. As with Polaris, Trident was owned and operated by the UK but committed to NATO and targeted in accordance with plans set out by the organisation's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who is traditionally a senior figure in the United States military. Under the terms of the Polaris Sales Arrangement, the United States does not have a veto on the use of British nuclear weapons, which the UK may launch independently, but this would only occur if "supreme national interests" required it.
The final decision on firing the missiles is the responsibility of the prime minister, who, upon taking office, writes four identical letters of last resort, one of which is locked in a safe on board each of the Vanguard-class submarines. If contact with the UK is lost, the commanding officer of a submarine has to follow the instructions in the letter if they believe that the United Kingdom has suffered an overwhelming attack. Options include retaliating with nuclear weapons, not retaliating, putting the submarine under the command of an ally or acting as the captain deems appropriate. The exact content of the letters is never disclosed, and they are destroyed without being opened upon the election of a new prime minister.
By the time of the first Vanguard patrol in December 1994, the Soviet Union no longer existed, and the government adjusted its nuclear policy in the years to follow. Trident's missiles were "detargetted" in 1994 ahead of Vanguard's maiden voyage. The warheads are not aimed at specific targets but await co-ordinates that can be programmed into their computers and fired with several days' notice.
Under the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the Soviet Union, the United States withdrew its surface naval nuclear weapons and short-range nuclear forces. The GLCMs were withdrawn from the UK in 1991, and the Polaris submarine base at Holy Loch was closed in 1992. The last US warheads in British service under Project E, the B57 nuclear depth bombs and the Lance missiles and W48 nuclear artillery shells used by the British Army of the Rhine, were withdrawn in July 1992. The British Conservative government followed suit. The deployment of ships carrying nuclear weapons caused embarrassment during the Falklands War, and in the aftermath it was decided to stockpile them ashore in peacetime. The nuclear depth bombs were withdrawn from service in 1992, followed by the WE.177 free-fall bombs used by the Royal Navy and RAF on 31 March 1998, and all were dismantled by the end of August. This left Trident as Britain's sole nuclear weapons system.
Although Trident was designed as a strategic deterrent, the end of the Cold War led the British government to conclude that a sub-strategic—but not tactical—role was required, with Trident missiles assuming the role formerly handled by the RAF's WE.177 bombs. The 1994 Defence White Paper stated: "We also need the capability to undertake nuclear action on a more limited scale in order to ... halt aggression without inevitably triggering strategic nuclear exchanges". A later statement read: "We also intend to exploit the flexibility of Trident to provide the vehicle for both sub-strategic and strategic elements of our deterrent … as an insurance against potential adverse trends in the international situation".
On 19 March 1998, the Defence Secretary, George Robertson, was asked to provide a statement "on the development of a lower-yield variant of the Trident warhead for the sub-strategic role". He replied, "the UK has some flexibility in the choice of yield for the warheads on its Trident missiles".
The UK has not declared a no first use policy regarding launching a nuclear attack; former British defence secretary Geoff Hoon stated in 2002 and 2003 that the UK would be willing to attack rogue states with them if nuclear weapons were used against British troops. In April 2017 Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed that the UK would use nuclear weapons in a "pre-emptive initial strike" in "the most extreme circumstances". Fallon stated in a parliamentary answer that the UK has neither a 'first use' or 'no first use' in its nuclear weapon policy so that its adversaries would not know when the UK would launch nuclear strikes.
Design, development and constructionEdit
Four Vanguard-class submarines were designed and built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, now BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, the only shipbuilder in the UK with the facilities and expertise to build nuclear submarines. Even so, £62 million worth of new shipbuilding and dock facilities were added for the project, with the Devonshire Dock Hall built specially for it. The initial plan in 1980 was to build new versions of the Resolution-class, but then the decision was taken in July 1981 to incorporate the new Rolls-Royce PWR2 pressurised water reactor. From the outset, the Vanguard submarines were designed with enlarged missile tubes able to accommodate the Trident II D-5. The missile compartment is based on the system used on the American Ohio class, although with capacity for only 16 missiles, rather than the 24 on board an Ohio boat. The boats are significantly larger than the Resolution class, and were given names formerly associated with battleships and aircraft carriers, befitting their status as capital ships. An important consideration was the depth of the Walney Channel, which connected Barrow to the Irish Sea, which limited the draft to 27 1⁄2 feet (8.4 m), while the Ohio-class boats had a draft of 33 feet (10 m). Each boat is 150 metres (490 ft) long and 13 metres (43 ft) in diameter, and carries a crew of 150 officers and ratings.
The submarines use a tactical-information and weapons-control system called the Submarine Command System Next Generation. This system was developed in collaboration with Microsoft, and is based on the same technology as Windows XP, which led the media to give it the nickname "Windows for Submarines". In addition to the missile tubes, the submarines are fitted with four 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes and carry the Spearfish torpedo, allowing them to engage submerged or surface targets at ranges up to 65 kilometres (40 mi; 35 nmi). Two SSE Mark 10 launchers are also fitted, allowing the boats to deploy Type 2066 and Type 2071 decoys, and a UAP Mark 3 electronic support measures (ESM) intercept system is carried. A "Core H" reactor is fitted to each of the boats during their long-overhaul refit periods, ensuring that none of the submarines will ever need re-fuelling.
Thatcher laid the keel of the first boat, HMS Vanguard, on 3 September 1986, and it was commissioned on 14 August 1993. She was followed by her sisters, HMS Victorious, which was laid down on 3 December 1987 and commissioned on 7 January 1995; HMS Vigilant, which was laid down on 16 February 1991 and commissioned on 2 November 1996; and HMS Vengeance, which was laid down on 1 February 1993 and commissioned on 27 November 1999. The first British Trident missile was test-fired from Vanguard on 26 May 1994, and she began her first patrol in December of that year. According to the Royal Navy, at least one submarine has always been on patrol ever since.
In British service, Trident II missiles are fitted with a thermonuclear warhead called Holbrook. The warhead is believed to be of variable yield design and is estimated to have a maximum yield of 100 kilotons of TNT (420 TJ), with lower yields in the range of 0.3 kilotons of TNT (1.3 TJ) and 5 kilotons of TNT (21 TJ) to 10 kilotons of TNT (42 TJ)
The warheads are primarily constructed at AWE Aldermaston, on the site of former RAF Aldermaston, with other parts being made at other AWE facilities such as in Burghfield. The British government insists the warhead is ingeniously designed, but analysts including Hans M. Kristensen with the Federation of American Scientists believe that it is largely based on the US W76 design. Under the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement the UK is allowed to draw upon US warhead design information, but constructing and maintaining warheads for the Trident programme is the responsibility of AWE. The first Holbrook warhead was finished in September 1992 with production probably ending in 1999. Each warhead is housed in a cone-shaped re-entry vehicle made in the United States called the Mk 4 and is the same reentry vehicle used by the US Navy with its W76 warhead. This shell protects it from the high temperatures experienced upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. The Trident warhead's fusing, arming and firing mechanisms are carefully designed so that it can only detonate after launch and ballistic deployment.
In 2011 it was reported that British warheads would receive the new Mk 4A reentry vehicles and some or all of the other upgrades that US W76 warheads were receiving in their W76-1 Life Extension Program. Some reports suggested that British warheads would receive the same arming, fusing and firing system (AF&F) as the US W76-1. This new AF&F system, called the MC4700, would increase weapon lethality against hard targets such as missile silos and bunkers.
Conservative governments were sensitive to charges that the replacement of Polaris with Trident would involve an escalation in the numbers of British nuclear weapons. When the decision to purchase Trident II was announced in 1982, it was stressed that while American Trident boats carried 24 missiles with eight warheads each, a total of 192 warheads, British Trident boats would carry no more than 128 warheads—the same number as Polaris. In November 1993, the Secretary of State for Defence, Malcolm Rifkind, announced that each boat would deploy no more than 96 warheads. In 2010 this was reduced to a maximum of 40 warheads, split between eight missiles. The consequent reduction in warhead production and refurbishment was estimated to save £22 million over a ten-year period. On 25 February 2020, the UK released a Written Statement outlining that the current UK nuclear warheads will be replaced and will match the US Trident SLBM and related systems. Earlier, it was reported that Commander US Strategic Command, Admiral Charles Richard, mentioned in a Senate hearing that the UK was already working to replace its warheads, matching the future US W93 warhead.
As of 2016[update], the UK had a stockpile of 215 warheads, of which 120 were on operational deployment on submarines. The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review reduced the number of warheads and missiles for the ballistic missile submarine on patrol to 40 and 8 respectively.
Due to the distance of 720 km (450 mi) between AWE Aldermaston and the UK's nuclear weapon storage depot at RNAD Coulport in Argyll, Scotland, Holbrook (Trident) warheads are transported by road in heavily armed convoys by Ministry of Defence Police. According to a pressure group, between 2000 and 2016 the vehicles were involved in 180 incidents, ranging from delays and diversions because of accidents, protests, or bad weather, to a sudden loss of power in one of the lorries, which halted a convoy and caused a double lane closure and a tailback on the M6 motorway. The group's analysis stated the incidents were more frequent in the years 2013–2015. The convoys often use the motorway through the centre of Glasgow, where an accident leaking radiation could affect hundreds of thousands of people, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Trident II D-5 missilesEdit
Trident II D-5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California, and deployed with the US Navy and the Royal Navy. The British government contributed five per cent of its R&D costs under the modified Polaris Sales Agreement. The development contract was issued in October 1983, and the first launch occurred in January 1987. The first submarine launch was attempted by USS Tennessee in March 1989. This attempt failed because the plume of water following the missile rose to a greater height than expected, resulting in water being in the nozzle when the motor ignited. Once the problem was understood, simple changes were very quickly made, but the problem delayed the entry into service of Trident II until March 1990.
Trident II D-5 was designed to be more sophisticated than its predecessor, Trident I C-4, and has a greater payload capacity. All three stages of the Trident II D-5 are made of graphite epoxy, making the missile much lighter than its predecessor. The first test from a British Vanguard-class submarine took place in 1994. The missile is 13 metres (43 ft) long, weighs 58.5 tonnes (129,000 lb), has a range of 11,300 kilometres (7,000 mi), a top speed of over 21,600 km/h (13,400 mph) (Mach 17.4) and a circular error probable (CEP) accuracy to within "a few feet". It is guided using an inertial navigation system combined with a star tracker, and is not dependent on the American-run Global Positioning System (GPS).
The 1998 Strategic Defence Review decided to limit the number of missile bodies to the 58 already purchased or under order, and not receive the final seven missiles previously planned. This saved about £50 million. The UK missiles form a shared pool with the Atlantic squadron of the United States Navy Ohio-class SSBNs at Kings Bay. The pool is "co-mingled" and missiles are selected at random for loading on to either nation's submarines. The first Trident boat, HMS Vanguard, collected a full load of 16 missiles in 1994, but Victorious collected only 12 in 1995, and Vigilant, 14 in 1997, leaving the remaining missile tubes empty.
By 1999, six missiles had been test fired, and another eight were earmarked for test firing. In June 2016, a Trident II D-5 missile "veered off in the wrong direction towards America" after being launched from Vengeance off the coast of Florida. The incident was not revealed until January 2017; the Sunday Times reported that Downing Street had "covered up" the incident "just weeks before the crucial House of Commons vote on the future of the missile system." Subsequent media reports said the delay was at the request of the United States. Successful Royal Navy test firings had occurred in 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2012. They are infrequent due to the missile's £17 million price tag. By August 2016 there had been 161 successful test firings of the Trident II D-5 missile since 1989, the most recent being from USS Maryland in August 2016. Fewer than 10 test flights have been failures, and the Royal Navy is not known to have had a previous failure.
In the 1990s, the total acquisition cost of the Trident programme was £9.8 billion, about 38 per cent of which was incurred in the United States. In 2005–06, annual expenditure for the running and capital costs was estimated at between £1.2 billion and £1.7 billion and was estimated to rise to £2bn to £2.2 billion in 2007–08, including Atomic Weapons Establishment costs. Since Trident became operational in 1994, annual expenditure has ranged between 3 and 4.5 per cent of the annual defence budget, and was projected to increase to 5.5 per cent of the defence budget by 2007–08. As of 2009, each missile cost the United States government nearly £16.8 million ($29.1 million) to build. An important factor in the cost was the exchange rate between the dollar and the pound, which declined from $2.36 in September 1980 to $1.78 in March 1982.
The principle of Trident's operation is known as Continuous At-Sea Deterrence (CASD), which means that at least one submarine is always on patrol. Another submarine is usually undergoing maintenance and the remaining two are in port or on training exercises. During a patrol, the submarine is required to remain silent and is allowed to make contact with the United Kingdom only in an emergency. It navigates using mapped contour lines of the ocean floor and patrols a series of planned "boxes" measuring several thousand square miles. A 1,000-metre-long (3,300 ft) aerial trails on the surface behind the submarine to pick up incoming messages. Intelligence is constantly relayed to the vessel, giving details of shipping movements and potentially hostile aircraft or submarines in the area. Most of the 150 crew never know where they are or where they have been. The 350th patrol commenced on 29 September 2017. On 15 November 2018, a reception was held at Westminster to mark 50 years of CASD.
Command and controlEdit
Only the prime minister or a designated survivor can authorise the missiles to be fired. These orders would likely be issued from the Pindar command bunker under Whitehall in central London. From there, the order would be relayed to the Commander, Task Force 345 (CTF 345) operations room at the Northwood Headquarters facility in Hertfordshire, the only facility allowed to communicate with the Vanguard commander on patrol. Two personnel are required to authenticate each stage of the process before launching, with the submarine commander only able to activate the firing trigger after two safes have been opened with keys held by the ship's executive and weapon engineer officers.
At the end of the Cold War, the United States Navy installed devices on its submarines to prevent rogue commanders from persuading their crews to launch unauthorised nuclear attacks. These devices prevent an attack until a launch code has been sent by the chiefs of staff on behalf of the President of the United States. The Ministry of Defence chose not to install equivalent devices on Vanguard submarines on the grounds that an aggressor might be able to eliminate the British chain of command before a launch order could be sent. A parliamentary written reply states that the commanding officer of a Royal Navy ballistic submarine receive training in the 'Law Of Armed Conflict' when handling command and control of nuclear weapons.
Trident is based at HMNB Clyde on the west coast of Scotland. The base consists of two facilities — Faslane Naval Base on Gare Loch near Helensburgh, and an ordnance depot with 16 concrete bunkers set into a hillside at Coulport, 4 km (2.5 mi) to the west. Faslane was constructed and first used as a base during the Second World War. This location was chosen as the base for nuclear-armed submarines at the height of the Cold War because of its position close to the deep and easily navigable Firth of Clyde. It provides for rapid and stealthy access through the North Channel to the patrolling areas in the North Atlantic, and through the GIUK gap between Iceland and Scotland to the Norwegian Sea. Also based there are Astute-class nuclear-powered fleet submarines (SSNs). RNAD Coulport is used to store the nuclear warheads and has docking facilities where they are loaded onto submarines before going on patrol and unloaded when they return to the base. Repair and refit of the Vanguard-class submarines takes place at HMNB Devonport near Plymouth, Devon.
Cuts to the UK's maritime patrol fleet in the 2010 Security Defence Review potentially allowed Russia to gain "valuable intelligence" on the country's nuclear deterrence according to senior RAF officers. Subsequently, plans to buy eight Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton drones were moved forward considerably. As of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, there are no stated plans to purchase the MQ-4C.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was a national movement founded in the late 1950s, initially in opposition to nuclear testing. It reached its peak around 1960, by which time it had evolved into a broader movement calling for Britain to unilaterally give up nuclear weapons, withdraw from NATO, and end the basing of bombers armed with nuclear weapons in the UK. The end of atmospheric nuclear testing, internal squabbles, and activists focusing their energies on other causes led to a rapid decline, but it revived in the early 1980s in the wake of the Thatcher government's December 1979 decision to deploy GLCMs in the UK under the NATO Double-Track Decision, and the announcement of the decision to purchase Trident in July 1980. Membership leapt from 3,000 in 1980 to 50,000 a year later, and rallies for unilateral nuclear disarmament in London in October 1981 and June 1982 attracted 250,000 marchers, the largest ever mass demonstrations in the UK up to that time.
The 1982 Labour Party Conference adopted a platform calling for the removal of the GLCMs, the scrapping of Polaris and the cancellation of Trident. This was reaffirmed by the 1986 conference. While the party was given little chance of winning the 1983 election in the aftermath of the Falklands War, polls had shown Labour ahead of the Conservatives in 1986 and 1987. In the wake of Labour's unsuccessful performance in the 1987 election, the Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock, despite his own unilateralist convictions, moved to drop the party's disarmament policy, which he saw as a contributing factor in its defeat. The party formally voted to do so in October 1989.
Pro-independence Scottish political parties—the Scottish National Party (SNP), Scottish Green Party, Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and Solidarity—are opposed to the basing of the Trident system close to Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. Some members and ex-members of those parties, such as Tommy Sheridan and Lloyd Quinan, have taken part in blockades of the base. For a major House of Commons vote in 2007, the majority of Scottish members of parliament (MPs) voted against upgrading the system, while a substantial majority of English, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs voted in favour. The house backed plans to renew the programme by 409 votes to 161.
Faslane Peace Camp is permanently sited near Faslane naval base. It has been occupied continuously, albeit in different locations, since 12 June 1982. In 2006, a year-long protest at Trident's base at Faslane aimed to blockade the base every day for a year. More than 1,100 people were arrested.
Royal United Services InstituteEdit
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British defence and security think tank, released a paper in July 2010 assessing four possible options for maintaining both an effective nuclear deterrent and also reducing costs in light of anticipated budget restrictions. These proposals were motivated by the fact that funding for the Trident renewal programme now had to come from the core Ministry of Defence budget. Four alternatives were considered: Trident submarines on continuous patrol; Trident submarines not on patrol continuously; attack submarines armed with nuclear cruise missiles; and land-based nuclear weapons. The paper concluded that "given the opportunity costs for conventional capabilities that current plans for Trident renewal are due to incur over the next decade...there is now a growing case for a re-examination of whether there are less expensive means of pursuing this objective. A key element of such a review is likely to be a reconsideration of the need to maintain a commitment to CASD in strategic circumstances that are now very different from those in which it was first introduced."
Trident Alternatives ReviewEdit
The 2013 Trident Alternatives Review was an 18-month study led by the Cabinet Office that was aimed at establishing whether or not there were credible alternatives to the UK's submarine-based CASD. Accordingly, the review analysed a range of delivery systems and warhead designs with respect to their affordability and effectiveness against potential targets. Ultimately, the Trident Alternatives Review came to the conclusion that there were alternatives to Trident that "would enable the UK to be capable of inflicting significant damage such that most potential adversaries around the world would be deterred", but none would "offer the same degree of resilience as the current posture". The review asserted that whether or not cruise missile-based systems offer a credible alternative was contingent upon a political judgement on whether the UK could accept a "significant increase in vulnerability" and a reduction in who it could deter.
The publication of the report was met with a mixed and varied reception from different political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament. While it was welcomed by the prime minister, David Cameron, as having confirmed the necessity of like-for-like replacement of Trident, Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Danny Alexander deemed it a demonstration of the fact there are "credible and viable alternatives to the UK's current approach to nuclear deterrence." NGOs including the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), a non-proliferation and disarmament think-tank, criticised the report for its limited scope and its failure to engage with a wider array of considerations related to nuclear weapons, including environmental and humanitarian issues.
The Trident CommissionEdit
In 2011, BASIC launched an independent cross-party Commission to initiate a deeper national debate on the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons policy and examine questions around the contentious issue of Trident renewal. The Commission operated under the chairmanship of former Labour Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Browne of Ladyton; former Conservative Defence and Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind; and Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Shadow Foreign Secretary. After three years' of deliberation, the Commission released its final report on 1 July 2014. It suggested, with important caveats, that the UK should retain a nuclear deterrent. The conclusion acknowledged that "it remains crucial that the UK show keen regard for its position within the international community and for the shared responsibility to achieve progress in global nuclear disarmament."
BASIC's interpretation of the report also focused on this point, emphasising that the commissioners "agreed that the health of the global strategic environment, particularly nuclear non-proliferation, is critical to national security and is a central consideration. They talk of the need for Britain to maintain its 'glide path down towards disarmament', to ensure that the renewal decisions the next government will be taking have consistency with the trajectory set by successive recent governments, and that the UK should continue to be 'at the forefront of the multilateral disarmament process.'"
2006 Defence White PaperEdit
The Vanguard-class submarines were built with a 25-year life expectancy, taking them into the 2020s. Trident II D-5 missiles are expected to continue in service until at least 2040 following an upgrade. A December 2006 Ministry of Defence white paper, entitled "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent", recommended that the nuclear weapons should be maintained and outlined measures that would do so until the 2040s. It advocated the currently preferred submarine-based system, as it remained the cheapest and most secure deterrence option available. Costs for this option are estimated at £15–20 billion based on:
- £0.25 billion to participate in US Trident D-5 missile life extension programme.
- £11–14 billion for a class of four new SSBNs.
- £2–3 billion for refurbishing warheads.
- £2–3 billion for infrastructure.
These 2006/07 prices would equate to about £25bn for the Successor-class submarines; the 2011 Initial Gate report confirmed estimates of £2-3bn each for the warheads and infrastructure. These cost estimates exclude the Vanguard five-year life extension and decommissioning, and it is unclear if new Trident missiles will need to be purchased for the life extension programme. Running costs would be about £1.5 billion per year at 2006 prices. The paper suggested parts of the existing Trident system be refitted to some extent to prolong their lives. However, the relatively short (five years) life extension potential of the Vanguard class meant that a new class of SSBNs should replace it in the early 2020s. The first boat of the new SSBN class would take 17 years to be designed and built, making a five-year life extension of the Vanguard class necessary.
A decision on the renewal of Trident was made on 4 December 2006. Prime Minister Tony Blair told MPs it would be "unwise and dangerous" for the UK to give up its nuclear weapons. He outlined plans to spend up to £20bn on a new generation of submarines for Trident missiles. He said submarine numbers may be cut from four to three, while the number of nuclear warheads would be cut by 20% to 160. Blair said although the Cold War had ended, the UK needed nuclear weapons, as no-one could be sure another nuclear threat would not emerge in the future.
On 14 March 2007, the Labour government won House of Commons support for the plans to renew the submarine system. The proposals were passed by the House of Commons by a majority of 248. Despite a clarification that the vote was just for the concept stage of the new system, 95 Labour MPs rebelled, and it was only passed with the support of the opposition Conservative Party. It was the first time MPs had been given the chance to vote on whether the UK should remain a nuclear power, and the biggest rebellion since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq War. The Labour government proposed that the final decision to manufacture should be made in 2014. The new 2010 coalition government agreed "that the renewal of Trident should be scrutinised to ensure value for money." Research and development work continued with an Initial Gate procurement decision, but the Main Gate decision to manufacture a replacement was rescheduled for 2016, after the 2015 general election.[note 2] The vote on whether to replace the Vanguard-class with the Successor-class was held on 18 July 2016 in the House of Commons; the motion passed with a significant majority, extending the programme's life until at least the 2060s. Although 48 Labour MPs voted against it, 41 did not vote, and 140 Labour votes were cast in favour of the motion.
2010 Strategic Defence and Security ReviewEdit
The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review concluded that the Successor-class submarines would have eight operational missiles carrying no more than 40 operational warheads between them. This would allow the UK to reduce its stocks of operational warheads from 160 to 120, and the overall stockpile from no more than 225 to no more than 180. They would be carried in a 12-missile common missile compartment designed in collaboration with the US Common Missile Compartment, which could accommodate the current Trident II D-5 missiles and any replacement missile once the D-5 reaches the end of its expected life in the 2040s.
Two non-representative polls of experts from the RUSI and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (commonly known as Chatham House) were conducted in 2010. The RUSI found a majority for those who think the benefits of Trident outweigh the costs (53%) compared to those that think the costs outweigh the benefits (13%) or are evenly balanced (34%). The Chatham House poll found a minority in favour of Trident replacement (22%), with more in favour of replacing with a cheaper system (43%) and 29% saying the UK should not replace Trident at all.
In April 2015, a YouGov poll found that 38% of people thought that Trident should be replaced in full, 28% wanted to replace it with a cheaper system, 19% thought the UK should completely give up its nuclear weapons, and 15% did not know. In September 2015, a Survation poll found that 29% agreed that Trident should be reformed to make it cheaper, 26% that it should be renewed in full, and 18% that it should be scrapped. 27% did not know. Nuclear weapons are not the nation's biggest issue, with just 2% of people saying that it was nation's biggest worry in May 2015, compared to 21% in June 1987.
In February 2016, BAE Systems began design work on prototypes of the new submarines, provisionally known as the Successor class. A vote in the House of Commons on 18 July 2016 determined that the UK should proceed with construction of this next generation of submarines, with 472 votes in favour of the replacement to 117 against. The Successor class was officially named the Dreadnought class on 21 October 2016. The submarines were expected to become operational starting in 2028, with the current fleet phased out by 2032. At the time of the Commons vote, there was already some urgency to move ahead because some experts predicted it could take 17 years to develop the new submarine to replace the Vanguard class.
The final cost of replacing the Vanguard class will not be known until the project has been completed. In October 2015, Reuters claimed it would cost £167 billion over its 30-year lifespan, or £5.56 billion per year; this figure was disputed by the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon. The Ministry of Defence put the cost of building, testing and commissioning the replacement vessels at £31 billion (plus a contingency fund of £10 billion) over 35 years, or about 0.2 per cent of government spending, or 6 per cent of defence spending, every year. Crispin Blunt, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, estimated in July 2016 that the programme would cost £179 billion in total over its lifetime.
For the 2018/19 financial year the National Audit Office found that spending on the nuclear deterrent will cost £5.2 billion, or 14% of the defence budget, with £600 million of contingency funding used. Costs were projected at about £51 billion over the following 10 years, £2.9 billion above the projected budget which already anticipated finding £3 billion of savings, which the Daily Telegraph described as a £6 billion shortfall.
- In the UK system, most of the day-to-day work of the cabinet is carried out by cabinet committees, rather than by the full cabinet. Each committee has its own area of responsibility, and their decisions are binding on the entire cabinet. Their membership and scope is determined by the Prime Minister. During the post-Second World War period, in addition to standing committees, there were ad hoc committees that were convened to handle a single issue. These were normally short-lived. Each was given a prefix of GEN (general) or MISC (miscellaneous) and a number in order of formation.
- The business case presented at Initial Gate includes the programme plan and costing for the procurement. The Main Gate business case is a key deliverable from the assessment stage. The process and products are similar to those used at Initial Gate but with a higher degree of maturity expected at this stage to inform the decision on whether or not to proceed with procurement.
- "UK nuclear deterrence: what you need to know". Ministry of Defence. 26 February 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Gowing 1964, pp. 108–111.
- Jones 2017, pp. 1–2.
- Gowing & Arnold 1974, pp. 181–184.
- Jones 2017, p. 25.
- Grove 1987, pp. 230–231.
- Baylis 2008, p. 446.
- Brown 1964, pp. 294–296.
- Jones 2017, p. 37.
- Moore 2010, pp. 42–46.
- Moore 2010, pp. 46–48.
- Moore 2010, pp. 64–68.
- Moore 2010, pp. 168–169.
- Jones 2017, pp. 381–393.
- Jones 2017, p. 444.
- Grove 1987, p. 242.
- "Resolution (S22)". Barrow Submariners Association. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- Grove 1987, p. 243.
- "Repulse (S23)". Barrow Submariners Association. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- "Repulse (S26)". Barrow Submariners Association. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- "Revenge (S27)". Barrow Submariners Association. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- Nailor 1988, pp. 91, 96.
- Priest 2005, pp. 369–370.
- "The UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent". Select Committee on Defence Eighth Report. House of Commons. 20 June 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- "History of the British Nuclear Arsenal". Nuclear Weapons Archive. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- Bowie & Platt 1984, pp. 40–44.
- Bowie & Platt 1984, pp. 49–55.
- Ritchie 2008, pp. 1–4.
- Stoddart 2014, p. 195.
- Bowie & Platt 1984, pp. v, 41–44.
- Stoddart 2014, p. 58.
- Stoddart 2014, p. 39.
- Doyle 2018, p. 3.
- Stoddart 2014, pp. 59–60.
- Stoddart 2014, pp. 61–63.
- Duff-Mason Report (PDF) (Report). National Archives. 7 December 1978. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Doyle 2017a, pp. 478–479.
- Doyle 2018, p. 6.
- Doyle 2017a, pp. 479–481.
- Stoddart 2014, p. 112.
- Doyle 2018, pp. 8–9.
- "The Cabinet Manual: A Guide to Laws, Conventions and Rules on the Operation of Government" (PDF). Cabinet Office. October 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "Cabinet and its committees". The National Archives. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- Stoddart 2014, pp. 133–135.
- "Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation on the uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence Purposes" (PDF). Nuclear Threat Initiative. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
- Stoddart 2014, pp. 135–136.
- Stoddart 2014, pp. 136–141.
- Doyle 2017a, pp. 482–484.
- Stoddart 2014, p. 143.
- Stoddart 2014, p. 147.
- Doyle 2017a, pp. 484–485.
- Doyle 2018, p. 11.
- Doyle 2017b, pp. 870–871.
- Doyle 2017b, p. 873.
- Doyle 2017a, pp. 486–487.
- "Written Answers to Questions". Hansard. 27 October 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Stoddart 2014, pp. 197–199.
- Fairhall, David (16 July 1980). "£5 billion Trident deal is agreed". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- Stoddart 2014, pp. 162–163.
- Jenkins, Simon (9 April 2013). "How Margaret Thatcher's Falklands gamble paid off". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- Grove 1987, pp. 381–384.
- "Politics 97". BBC News. 9 June 1983.
- Grove 1987, p. 394.
- "The Future United Kingdom Strategic Deterrent Force" (PDF). The Defence Council. July 1980. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
- Dombey 2007, pp. 33–34.
- "Ministry of Defence, reply to a request about the UK nuclear deterrent" (PDF). National Archives. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Bunkall, Alistair (13 July 2016). "May To Be Handed Keys To Nuclear Red Button". Sky News. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
- Trident, Hansard, 11 July 2005, Column 662W
- Ritchie 2014, pp. 14–16.
- Chalmers 1999, p. 63.
- Grove 1987, p. 384.
- Burnell, Brian. "Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to British Nuclear Weapons Projects". nuclear-weapons.info. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- Evans, Rob; Leigh, David (7 December 2003). "Falklands warships carried nuclear weapons, MoD admits". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- "WE 177 Type B (950lb), Training". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- Chalmers 1999, p. 65.
- Larkin 1989, p. 77.
- "Annex A: Making Trident more usable and more threatening". Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence. House of Commons. June 2006. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- "BBC News — UK 'prepared to use nuclear weapons'". 20 March 2002. Archived from the original on 20 October 2002. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
- "BBC NEWS — UK restates nuclear threat". BBC News. 2 February 2003. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
- Merrick, Rob (24 April 2017). "Theresa May would fire UK's nuclear weapons as a 'first strike', says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon". The Independent. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Fallon, Michael (5 September 2017). "Nuclear Weapons:Written question - 8502". Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Stoddart 2014, p. 52.
- "DDH celebrates 25th birthday". BAE Systems. 5 September 2011. Archived from the original on 16 November 2011.
- Grove 1987, p. 356.
- "Fact sheet 4: Current system" (PDF). The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Allison, George (15 May 2017). "No, Trident doesn't run on Windows XP". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
- British government (17 December 2008). "Windows for Submarines". Microsoft. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
- "'Trident is old technology': the brave new world of cyber warfare". The Guardian. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- Royal Navy. "Vanguard Class Ballistic Subs (SSBN)". Archived from the original on 23 June 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2007.
- Saunders 2004, p. 794.
- "Britain confirms new nuclear warhead project after US officials spill the beans". 25 February 202. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
- "Britain's Nuclear Weapons; The Current British Arsenal". The Nuclear Weapon Archive. Carey Sublette. 30 April 2001. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
The Trident warheads also offer multiple yields - probably 0.3 kt, 5-10 kt and 100 kt - by choosing to fire the unboosted primary, the boosted primary, or the entire "physics package".
- "Our history". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
- "Britain's Next Nuclear era". Federation of American Scientists. 7 December 2006. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
- "UK's Trident system not truly independent". Greenpeace. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Mosher 1993, p. 76.
- "Nuclear weapons security—MoD statement". BBC News. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Kristensen, Hans. "British Submarines to Receive Upgraded US Nuclear Warhead." FAS, 1 April 2011.
- "Trident more effective with US arming device, tests suggest". Retrieved 8 March 2020.
- "How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze". Retrieved 8 March 2020.
- Chalmers 1999, p. 64.
- "Nuclear Deterrent". hansard.parliament.uk. UK Hansard. 25 February 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
- Doward, Jamie (22 February 2020). "Trident Pentagon reveals deal with Britain to replace Trident". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
- "Nuclear Weapons: Who Has What at a Glance". Arms Control Association. ACA. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
- "Global nuclear weapons: downsizing but modernising". sipri. SIPRI. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
- "Fact sheet 4: Current system" (PDF). The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- Edwards, Robert (12 November 2005). "If a nuclear convoy should crash..." New Scientist. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Evans, Rob (22 September 2016). "UK nuclear weapons convoys 'have had 180 mishaps in 16 years'". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
- "Nuclear bomb convoy crash a fallout threat to Glasgow". The Herald. Glasgow. 25 September 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
- "U.S. Navy's Trident II D5 Missile Achieves New Test Flight Reliability Record". Lockheed-Martin. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- Parsch, Andreas. "UGM-133". Directory of US Military Rockets and Missiles. Retrieved 14 February 2009.
- Spinardi 1994, p. 159.
- "Lockheed Martin-Built Trident II D5 Missile Achieves 137th Successful Test Flight". Lockheed-Martin. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "Trident missile factfile". BBC News. 23 September 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Fenwick, Toby (2012). "Dropping the bomb: a post Trident future" (PDF). Centre Forum. p. 19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- "Strategic Defence Review" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "How serious was the Trident missile test failure?". UK Defence Journal. 22 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
- "Freedon of information request about the UK nuclear deterrent" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 19 July 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- Butler & Bromley 2001, p. 10.
- Chalmers 1999, p. 73.
- "Admiral Lord West and Professor Michael Clarke questioned on Trident". UK Parliament. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- "No 10 covered up Trident missile fiasco". The Times. 22 January 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- Coates, Sam; Elliott, Francis (24 January 2017). "US urged Britain to keep Trident blunder secret". The Times. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- Askell, Ewen (24 January 2017). "How did the Trident test fail and what did Theresa May know?". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- "Successful Trident II D5 Missile Flight Test Supports Navy Submarine Certification for Strategic Patrol". Lockheed Martin. 13 September 2016. Archived from the original on 26 January 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- McCann, Kate; Dominiczak, Peter; Swinford, Steven (23 January 2017). "US Trident failure claims contradict Michael Fallon". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- "Why a Trident Missile Test Is Rocking British Politics". The New York Times. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- "The Future of the British Nuclear Deterrent" (PDF). Research paper 06/53. House of Commons Library. 3 November 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 November 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2007. Cite journal requires
- Cite error: The named reference
NAO-1987was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
- "Supporting the UK's deterrent". AWE. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Michael Bilton (20 January 2008). "Dive bombers". The Sunday Times Magazine. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "UK marks 350th UK deterrent patrol". Ministry of Defence. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
- "Sir Michael Fallon defends nuclear deterrent amid heightened North Korea threat". Sky News. 29 September 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
- Murphy, Tom (15 November 2018). "Special reception in Westminster marks 50 years of continuous sea deterrent". The Mail. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- "Ministry of Defence Nuclear Submarines". 5 November 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Kelly, Guy (4 September 2017). "What would really happen if Britain came under nuclear attack?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Farmer, Ben (21 January 2016). "Trident: The man with the nuclear button who would fire Britain's missiles". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "British nukes protected by bicycle lock keys". BBC Press Office. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
- Nailor 1988, pp. 91–96.
- Nicolson, Stuart. "What do we know about Faslane, the home of Trident nuclear weapons?". BBC. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Why relocating Trident away from Scotland is virtually impossible". Save The Royal Navy. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- McDonald, Gayle (29 August 2017). "Devonport Dockyard ordered to improve safety by nuclear watchdog after 'several' incidents". The Herald. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "UK to spend £600m on spy drones to protect Britain from Russian incursion". International Business Times. 20 July 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
- Kaye, Yasmin (30 May 2015). "RAF cuts to Nimrod patrols allows Russians to spy on Trident submarines, warn experts". International Business Times. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
- Bronk, Justin (14 July 2016). "The P-8 Poseidon for the UK". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Bowie & Platt 1984, pp. 63–70.
- Scott 2012, pp. 116-118.
- "Politics 97". BBC. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- Chalmers 1999, p. 62.
- Ritchie 2016, pp. 658–659.
- Womersley, Tara (23 October 2001). "Sheridan held again in Faslane protest". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
- "Scots Labour MPs rebel on Trident". BBC News. 14 March 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- "35th Anniversary (2017)". Faslane Peace Camp. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Carrell, Severin (3 October 2007). "170 held at last Faslane demo". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Chalmers 2010, p. 1.
- "Trident costs must come from MoD budget, Osborne says". BBC News. 30 July 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- Chalmers 2010, p. 5.
- "Trident Alternatives Review" (PDF). British government. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- "UK has alternatives to Trident—Danny Alexander". BBC. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- Ingram, Paul. "Reading the findings of the UK Trident Alternatives Review" (PDF). British American Security Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- "Trident Commission". British American Security Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- "The Trident Commission: Concluding Report" (PDF). British American Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- "A BASIC Guide to Interpreting the Trident Commission's Concluding Report" (PDF). British American Security Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- "Successor submarine programme: factsheet". MoD. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 4 December 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
- "The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent: The Submarine Initial Gate Parliamentary Report" (PDF). UK Ministry of Defence. May 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "The Future of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the White Paper" (PDF). House of Commons Defence Committee. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "UK nuclear weapons plan unveiled". BBC. 4 December 2006. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
- "Trident plan wins Commons support". BBC News. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "Trident plan wins Commons support". BBC News. 14 March 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- "Blair wins Trident nuclear arsenal vote". ABC News. 15 March 2007. Archived from the original on 17 March 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
- "Trident: The Initial Gate Decision" (PDF). Briefings on Nuclear Security. BASIC. July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "MOD Architectural Framework Acquisition Community of Interest Deskbook" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 29 July 2005. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
- "MPs approve Trident renewal". BBC News. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- Kuenssberg, Laura (19 July 2016). "MPs vote to renew Trident weapons system". BBC. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
Jeremy Corbyn has been heckled and accused of lying by his own MPs and told he was "defending the countries’ enemies" as he announced he would vote against renewing Trident.
- Auslan Cramb (9 January 2007). "Nine are held in Faslane demo". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
- "Trident in UK Politics and Public Opinion" (PDF). p. 23. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "YouGov Poll p.13" (PDF).
- Demianyk, Graeme (25 September 2015). "Labour Party Conference HuffPost Poll: Less Than One In Five Voters Back Scrapping Trident". HuffPost. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "FactCheck: Does Britain want to scrap Trident?". Archived from the original on 6 November 2015.
- "BAE gets £201m for fresh design work on new nuclear submarines". The Telegraph. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- "MPs approve Trident renewal". BBC News. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- Tom Peck (18 July 2016). "Theresa May warns threat of nuclear attack has increased ahead of Trident vote". Independent. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- "New Successor Submarines Named" (Press release). Government of the United Kingdom. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- "Everything you need to know about Trident – Britain's nuclear deterrent". ITV News. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
The £40 billion construction of a new fleet, Successor, could begin this year and be operational by 2028 while the current fleet will be phased out by 2032.
- "MPs approve Trident renewal". BBC News. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- "A guide to Trident and the debate about replacement". BBC. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
- Norton-Taylor, Richard; Scruton, Paul (16 July 2016). "Trident: what you need to know before the parliamentary vote". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
Parliament will decide on Monday if the UK's nuclear submarine fleet will be replaced at an estimated cost of £41bn
- "Britain denies report nuclear deterrent to cost 167 billion pounds". Reuters. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Allison, George (18 July 2016). "British parliament votes to renew Trident". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
The Successor class is the proposed replacement for the Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines. They will carry Trident D-5 missiles, the vehicle for delivering the UK's nuclear weapons.
- Syal, Rajeev (22 May 2018). "MoD faces £2.9bn nuclear funding gap, say auditors". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
- Tovey, Alan (22 May 2018). "Royal Navy's nuclear submarines face £6bn black hole". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
- Baylis, John (June 2008). "The 1958 Anglo-American Mutual Defence Agreement: The Search for Nuclear Interdependence". The Journal of Strategic Studies. 31 (3): 425–466. doi:10.1080/01402390802024726. ISSN 0140-2390.
- Bowie, Christopher J.; Platt, Alan (1984). British Nuclear Policymaking. Santa Monica, California: Rand Corporation. ISBN 0-8330-0534-0. OCLC 29212035. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
- Brown, N. (July 1964). "Britain's Strategic Weapons I. Manned Bombers". The World Today. 20 (7): 293–298. JSTOR 40393629.
- Butler, Nicola; Bromley, Mark (November 2001). Secrecy and Dependence: The UK Trident System in the 21st Century (PDF). British American Information Council. ISBN 978-1-874533-44-3. OCLC 78965689. BASIC Research Report, Number 2001.3. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- Chalmers, Malcolm (1 March 1999). "Bombs Away? Britain and Nuclear Weapons under New Labour". Security Dialogue. 30 (1): 61–74. doi:10.1177/0967010699030001005. ISSN 0967-0106.
- Chalmers, Malcolm (July 2010). Continuous At-Sea Deterrence: Costs and Alternatives (PDF). RUSI. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- Dombey, Norman (April 2007). "What is Trident for?". London Review of Books. 29 (7): 33–34. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- Doyle, Suzanne (2017a). "The United States Sale of Trident to Britain, 1977–1982: Deal Making in the Anglo–American Nuclear Relationship" (PDF). Diplomacy & Statecraft. 28 (3): 477–493. doi:10.1080/09592296.2017.1347447. ISSN 0959-2296.
- Doyle, Suzanne (2017b). "A Foregone Conclusion? The United States, Britain and the Trident D5 Agreement" (PDF). Journal of Strategic Studies. 40 (6): 867–894. doi:10.1080/01402390.2016.1220366. ISSN 0140-2390.
- Doyle, Suzanne (2018). "Preserving the Global Nuclear Order: The Trident Agreements and the Arms Control Debate, 1977–1982". The International History Review. 40 (5): 1174–1190. doi:10.1080/07075332.2018.1430047. ISSN 1949-6540.
- Gowing, Margaret (1964). Britain and Atomic Energy 1939–1945. London: Macmillan. OCLC 3195209.
- Gowing, Margaret; Arnold, Lorna (1974). Independence and Deterrence: Britain and Atomic Energy, 1945–1952, Volume 1, Policy Making. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-15781-8. OCLC 611555258.
- Grove, Eric J. (1987). Vanguard to Trident; British Naval Policy since World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-552-3. OCLC 15081825.
- House of Commons Defence Committee (2006). The Future of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: The Manufacturing and Skills Base, Fourth Report of Session 2006–07. London: The Stationery Office. ISBN 978-0-215-03178-5.
- Jones, Jeffrey (2017). Volume I: From the V-Bomber Era to the Arrival of Polaris, 1945–1964. The Official History of the UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-67493-6. OCLC 1005663721.
- Larkin, Bruce D. (1989). Nuclear Designs: Great Britain, France and China in the Global Governance of Nuclear Arms. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4128-2983-0. OCLC 933970833.
- Moore, Richard (2010). Nuclear Illusion, Nuclear Reality: Britain, the United States and Nuclear Weapons 1958–64. Nuclear Weapons and International Security since 1945. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-230-21775-1. OCLC 705646392.
- Mosher, David (1993). Rethinking the Trident Force. Washington, DC: Congressional Budget Office. OCLC 713559648.
- Nailor, Peter (1988). The Nassau Connection: The Organisation and Management of the British Polaris Project. HMSO. ISBN 0-11-772526-9. OCLC 231046793.
- National Audit Office (29 June 1987). Ministry of Defence and Property Services Agency: Control and Management of the Trident Programme. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 0-10-202788-9. OCLC 655304084.
- Navias, Martin S. (1991). British Weapons and Strategic Planning, 1955–1958. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-827754-5. OCLC 22506593.
- Priest, Andrew (September 2005). "In American Hands: Britain, the United States and the Polaris Nuclear Project 1962–1968". Contemporary British History. 19 (3): 353–376. doi:10.1080/13619460500100450. ISSN 1361-9462.
- Ritchie, Nick (2008). "Trident and British Identity: Letting Go of Nuclear Weapons". Bradford, West Yorkshire: University of Bradford. OCLC 682883281. Retrieved 14 July 2018. Cite journal requires
- Ritchie, Nick (2014). Nuclear Weapons-Free World?: Britain, Trident and the Challenges Ahead. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-349-33185-7. OCLC 951512317.
- Ritchie, Nick (2016). "Nuclear identities and Scottish independence". The Nonproliferation Review. 23 (5–6): 653–675. doi:10.1080/10736700.2017.1345517. ISSN 1073-6700.
- Saunders, Stephen, ed. (2004). Jane's Fighting Ships, 2004–2005. London: Jane's Information Group Limited. ISBN 0-7106-2623-1. OCLC 973573307.
- Scott, Len (March 2012). "Selling or Selling Out Nuclear Disarmament? Labour, the Bomb, and the 1987 General Election". The International History Review. 34 (1): 115–137. doi:10.1080/07075332.2012.620242. ISSN 0707-5332.
- Spinardi, Graham (1994). From Polaris to Trident: The Development of Fleet Ballistic Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41357-5. OCLC 27339433.
- Stoddart, Kristan (2014). Facing Down the Soviet Union: Britain, the USA, NATO and Nuclear Weapons, 1976–83. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-44031-0. OCLC 900698250.