Congress has denied major funding in the Fiscal Year 2007 budget for the Navy to develop and deploy non-nuclear Trident missiles in the fleet's ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs). The program, small but increasingly controversial, is for each of the 14 Trident submarines of the Ohio (SSBN-726) class to carry two such missiles with non-nuclear warheads when on deterrent patrol. The other 22 Trident D-5 missiles in each boat would retain the current payload of multiple-reentry vehicles with W76 or W88 thermonuclear warheads.
The conventional Trident modification (CTM) program was specifically endorsed by the recent Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which directed the deployment of non-nuclear Trident missiles within two years, i.e., by 2008.1 The Defense Department had requested $127 million for FY 2007, a very small amount when considering defense hardware programs. Some $30 million in research funds were approved. Many in Congress appear to support the idea of a conventional weapon for the mission-which the Pentagon calls "prompt global strike"-but are not in a hurry to put the modified Trident missiles to sea.