A nuclear missile test conducted by the British on the East Coast of the United States did not go as planned. The missile, launched from the HMS Vanguard submarine, crashed into the ocean instead of reaching its intended target. It is important to note that the missile was not armed with a nuclear warhead and no nuclear material was onboard.
The failure of the test was revealed by The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, and confirmed by the Ministry of Defence. Despite this setback, the ministry maintains that the country’s nuclear deterrent remains effective and that the incident was an “anomaly” specific to the test. The government suggests that the test conditions themselves may have contributed to the failure, although no details were provided. It is possible that the use of older missiles, scheduled for retirement, for training purposes could have played a role.
The UK Defence Minister has expressed unwavering confidence in the Trident system, stating that the missiles are effective, dependable, and formidable. However, former defence committee chairman Tobias Elwood MP has attributed the crash to testing equipment attached to the missile. He believes that if the equipment had not been present, the launch would have been successful. Nonetheless, he acknowledges that the incident is embarrassing and not something the government wishes to see happen.
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A spokesman said the weapon “could absolutely fire in a real world situation” if required and “The issue that occurred during the test was specific to the event and would not have occurred during a live armed fire”.
An unnamed source quoted by the publication mentioned, “It left the submarine but it just went plop, right next to them,” indicating that the initial launch phase, where the missile is propelled out of the submarine and towards the surface by a burst of gas, was successful. The missile is then expected to progress through multiple rocket stages, enabling it to exit the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of thousands of miles per hour.
The unsuccessful launch occurred near Cape Canaveral, where both the United States and the United Kingdom conduct nuclear ballistic missile trials. Another British-led test failed at the same location in 2016.