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Malfunction during British Missile Test

During a Trident II D5 missile test from the British SSBN HMS Vengeance serious malfunctions occurred, as the Sunday Times reported. A missile fired at a practice target off Africa´s west coast 4,000 nm away temporarily headed towards the US. According to defense sources the causes for this malfunction is more likely to be faulty data and programming than bad design of the missile or a material defect.

This test failure was kept secret by the British government until the Sunday Times revealed it in the night of the 21 January with reference to a naval source. This publication raises doubt on the British nuclear arsenal´s reliability and safety which is an essential pillar of Great Britain´s national defense according to a government spokesman.

Only a few weeks after this malfunctions the House of Commons voted on the renewal of their submarines with ballistic missiles, as we reported in Flotsam June 2016. Among the MPs the suspicion raised, that the British Prime Minister deliberately kept the malfunctions secret. A decisive impact on the outcome of the vote by this seems unlikely. In a BBC interview Theresa May persistently declined to answer questions whether she was informed about the malfunctions at the time of the debate or give any comment on the missile test. The PM emphasized that she had “absolute faith” in the UK´s nuclear weapons arsenal. First calls for a parliamentary inquiry put the British government increasingly under pressure in this matter.