On Monday 18 July the UK Parliament decided to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system. Let’s take a quick look at what companies make which parts…..
Although many branded this debate as the ‘maingate’ decision, in fact many of the contracts have already been in place for quite some time for the production of key components for the Trident II (D5) missile system. As the system is also used by the United States, almost all of the companies involved in its production are American.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s aerospace and military segment currently produces solid and liquid propulsion systems for the Trident II (D5) nuclear missile systems.[i] BAE Systems provides supply support and information technology services.[ii] Boeing provides component production and technical support services of the navigation system, test equipment and software modernization, and repair of the system. The Boing contract was awarded already in 2014, for work that is expected to be completed in June 2017.[iii] Charles Stark Draper Laboratory is the prime contractor for the Trident Life Extension (LE) boost guidance, and has completed the design phase and begun manufacturing of the MK6 MOD 1 Guidance System, which will function as the boost guidance system for the Trident D(5)LE missile through 2040.[iv] General Dynamics has a contract for production and deployed-systems support of the Trident II-weapons system.[v] It has also had a contract in place since 2013 for a range of engineering, development, and production activities to support Trident II Strategic Weapons Systems, as well as engineering and trade studies on replacement of the common missile department on the new generation submarines.[vi] Honeywell International produces components for integrated circuits and micro circuit wafers.[vii]
In April 2015, Lockheed Martin obtained UK contract funds of a maximum US$ 31.1 million (€ 28.9 million) to provide engineering and technical support services and deliverable materials for the UK Trident II Missile System with completion foreseen in March 2019.[viii] Moog develops launch vehicle and strategic missile controls for the Trident (D5) missiles.[ix] Northrop Grumman provides ongoing support to the Trident II (D5) Underwater Launcher System and Advanced Launcher Development Program.[x] It has also had a contract in place since 2014 for the underwater launcher subsystem, engineering refueling overhaul shipyard support, and United Kingdom launcher trainer support, which is expected to be completed by September 2018.[xi] Orbital ATK produces rocket propulsion systems for all three stages of the Trident II (D5) solid propellant, inertial guided missile system.[xii]
In addition, there are a number of companies involved in the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)- including Jacobs Engineering, Lockheed Martin and Serco.[xiii] The AWE is responsible for the maintenance of the warheads for the country’s Trident II-nuclear arsenal. AWE-ML is responsible for managing and operating the AWE sites at Aldermaston, Burghfield, and Blacknest, and is a partner in the consortium operating the nuclear arms depot in Coulport, Scotland. [xiv]
These contracts have been in place for years. The debate in the UK parliament about Trident renewal was therefore less about setting up new systems and new contracts, rather, it was a reaffirmation of the existing billions being spent on this outdated weapons system. For too long these weapons have been considered legitimate, and there has been no international law prohibiting their production, possession and use. The time has come to change that – a new treaty is needed to set a higher standard against nuclear weapons, to help these companies get out of the nuclear weapons business.
[i] Aerojet Rocketdyne, “Trident II D-5 PBCS”, Website Aeroject Rocketdyne (www.rocket.com/trident-d-5-pbcs), viewed June 2016;
Aerojet Rocketdyne, “Minuteman III PSRE”, Website Aerojet Rocketdyne (www.rocket.com/minuteman-iii-psre), viewed June 2016.
[ii] Federal Business Opportunities, “Logistics Support Services for TRIDENT II (D5) Strategic Weapon System (SWS) Program and the SSGN Attack Weapon System (AWS) Program”, Website FedBizOpps, 2 October 2014 (www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=885301d624752ccfcd6c1b2dec834efa);
Strategic Systems Programs, “Justification and Approval for Use of other than full and open competition – J&A NOsp 15,682”, Strategic Systems Programs, October 2014;
U.S. Department of Defense, “Daily contract list – Contract N00030-15-C-0007”, Website U.S. Department of Defense, 1 October 2014 (www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/606698);
BAE Systems, “Annual Report 2014”, BAE Systems, February 2015.
[iii] Department of the Navy, “Justification and approval for the use of other than full and open competition”, Department of the Navy, October 2014 (www.fbo.gov/utils/view?id=398459015e31293c52f4d6ecf54c90e9);
U.S. Department of Defense, “Daily contracts – Contract N00030-14-C-0025 “, Website U.S. Department of Defense, 30 September 2014 (www.defense.gov/Contracts/Contract.aspx?ContractID=5387).
[iv] Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, “Boost guidance”, Website Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (www.draper.com/solution/boost-guidance), viewed June 2016;
Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, “Maintaining Strategic Deterrence – Navy Trident Missile Test Featured Draper Guidance System”, Website Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (www.draper.com/news/maintaining-strategic-deterrence#sthash.xN0413od.dpuf), viewed June 2016.
[v] General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, “General Dynamics Awarded $96 Million to Support Trident II Submarine Strategic Weapons Systems”, News Release General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, 5 January 2012 (www.generaldynamics.com/news/press-releases/2012/01/general-dynamics-awarded-96-million-support-trident-ii-submarine).
[vi] U.S. Department of the Navy, “Strategic Systems Programs – Class justification and approval for us of other than full and open competition”, U.S. Department of the Navy, September 2015.
[vii] General Dynamics, “General Dynamics Awarded $110 Million for Procurement of Foundry Services”, News release General Dynamics, 14 December 2009 (www.generaldynamics.com/news/press-releases/detail.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1811=6021).
[viii] U.S. Department of Defense, “Daily contracts – Contract N00030-15-C-002”, Website U.S. Department of Defense, 2 April 2015 (www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/606819).
[ix] Moog, “Annual report 2015”, Moog, November 2014 (www.moog.com/literature/Corporate/Investors/Annual_Report/2015/Moog_2015_Annual_Report_Complete.pdf);
Moog, “Missile systems”, Website Moog (www.moog.com/markets/defense/missile-systems-overview/), viewed June 2016.
[x] U.S. Department of Defense, “Daily Contract List – Contract N00030-14-C-0011”, U.S. Department of Defense, 12 December 2013 (archive.defense.gov/Contracts/Contract.aspx?ContractID=5183).
[xi] U.S. Department of Defense, “Daily contracts – Contract N00030-14-C-0011”, Website U.S. Department of Defense, 29 September 2014 (archive.defense.gov/Contracts/Contract.aspx?ContractID=5386).
[xii] Military & Aerospace, “ATK wins $100 million for Trident II solid rocket propulsion systems”, Website Military & Aerospace, 12 November 2009 (www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2009/11/atk-wins-100-million-for-trident-ii-solid-rocket-propulsion-systems.html);
ATK, “Annual Report 2013”, ATK, 22 May 2013;
Orbital ATK, “Trident II”, Website Orbital ATK (www.orbitalatk.com/flight-systems/propulsion-systems/tridentII/), viewed June 2016.
[xiii] AWE, “Our company”, Website AWE (www.awe.co.uk/about-us/our-company/), viewed June 2016;
AWE, “Overview”, AWE, July 2014 (www.awe.co.uk/app/uploads/2014/07/AWE-OVERVIEW-FINAL.pdf).
[xiv] AWE-ML, “Our company”, Website AWE-ML (www.awe.co.uk/about-us/our-company/), viewed June 2016;
Edwards, R., “Anger as US arms dealer takes over running of Scottish nuclear bomb base”, Scotland Herald (www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/anger-as-us-arms-dealer-takes-over-running-of-scottish-nuclear-bomb-base.13864732), 28 May 2011;
Serco, “AWE review concluded successfully and updated contract agreed”, Press Release Serco, 31 March 2016 (www.serco.com/media/pressreleases/awe-review-concluded-successfully-and-updated-contract-agreed).