Trident II System:

Status and Reporting

NSIAD-84-86: Published: May 15, 1984. Publicly Released: May 15, 1984.

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GAO assessed the Navy's efforts to develop and acquire the Trident II system which consists of the Trident submarines, missiles and associated weapon equipment, and shore support facilities.

Originally, the Trident II Strategic Weapon System was to be introduced into the fleet by installing it on Trident submarines previously delivered with the Trident I System, and operational capability of the Trident II system was expected in late 1989 at an estimated cost of $39.9 billion. However, this schedule has been modified and the Trident II system will be introduced into the fleet at a slightly faster rate than originally planned, although the submarine construction costs will be increased by about $1 billion. GAO found that, while the Trident II weapon system development is directed toward improving the accuracy of submarine-launched ballistic missile systems, the accuracy cannot be fully demonstrated until operational missile tests are conducted from Trident II-configured submarines. Therefore, concurrency is planned among the development, testing, and production phases to achieve the planned deployment date, and the Navy believes that the risks associated with this concurrency are acceptable. GAO also noted that the Trident program has no established force level objective; and a number of indicators suggest that the force level objective is at least 20 submarines, which could increase the program cost by $15 billion. Finally, GAO stated that a case could be made for reporting the Trident I and II systems in only two Selected Acquisition Reports, because the manner in which they are reported now results in a fragmentation of program costs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not concur with this recommendation. It stated that: establishing a Trident force objective would be premature; the decision on ultimate force size will be influenced by capabilities of other legs of the strategic triad and by evolution of strategic policy; it is influenced by future arms control agreements. No programmatic decisions are anticipated in the next several years.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish the force level objective for the Trident program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not concur with this recommendation. DOD stated that the current reporting of the Trident program in three separate selected acquisition reports provides more visibility of the factors influencing the cost of the missile and the submarine and permits comparison to other Navy missile and ship programs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Department of the Navy to report the Trident acquisition program in two Selected Acquisition Reports - Trident I and Trident II.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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