The current U.S. SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) is the
58 ton, 44 foot long Trident II, and it just set another record. For the 122th
consecutive time, a Trident II was
launched. Since 1989, none of these test launches have failed. The Trident had
two failures during its 49 development test launches, but since then, it has
been the most reliable SLBM to ever enter service. Each Trident II costs about
$65 million. The Trident II entered service in 1990. Some of them are fired
every year, to insure that the current configuration (of hardware and software)
still works as it is supposed to.
contrast, the latest Russian SLBM, the Bulava, is having an awful time in
testing. While the overall (out of over 5,000 of them) failure rate for test
launches of Russian rockets is eight percent (and the U.S. Trident I had a
failure rate of 13 percent while in development), nearly a third of Bulava's
development test launches have failed. The 48 ton, 56 foot long Bulava costs about
the same as the Trident II.
reliability is a crucial aspect of weapons, just like range and accuracy.