Trident is 'still effective' - but the misfiring is embarrassing

Archive image of a test-firing of an unarmed Trident ballistic missile Credit: PA

The misfiring of a Trident missile is incredibly embarrassing but potentially incredibly serious, so much so that Whitehall has swung into full reassurance mode.

It is embarrassing in this case because the Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and the First Sea Lord Ben Key were onboard HMS Vanguard to witness the launch of the £17 million missile.

"It left the submarine but it just went plop, right next to them," a source told The Sun.

But it is serious because the nuclear armed Trident missiles are Britain's ultimate line of defence.

It is missiles like these that have been continuously deployed under the sea since April 1969 to dissuade any hostile powers from attacking us first.

If they don't work, then what is to stop that happening?

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is at pains to point out that the problem with the failed missile was as a result of the test that was being carried out at the time and would not have applied to a real-life weapons launch.

I'm also told that the problem was not a result of 'human error'. A MoD spokesperson said that an "anomaly" occurred.

"As a matter of national security, we cannot provide further information on this, however we are confident that the anomaly was event specific, and therefore there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems and stockpile.

"The UK’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective.”

The government also says that there have been 190 successful firings of these missiles over the years by both the UK and the US. The most recent successful US test was in September.

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