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Navy Postpones Trident 2 Test During Summit

December 10, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The test-firing of the Navy's new Trident 2 submarine-launched nuclear missile scheduled for today at Cape Canaveral was postponed for political reasons, an Administration source said.

The source said the launch planners were apparently unaware of the political implications of conducting such a test on the last day of the Washington summit between Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Reagan.

Defense officials at Cape Canaveral cited "minor technical troubles" for the delay.

But the Administration source said there was no technical reason for canceling the test launch. The test was called off for "political reasons," the source said.

Between Friday and Sunday

One Pentagon source today said it is now likely that the Trident test will take place sometime between Friday and Sunday. After Sunday, the "launch window" will be closed, he said.

According to the sources, the test of the missile will not be conducted as originally planned last month--with the maximum possible number of dummy warheads--because a congressional study concluded that that could complicate arms control talks between the superpowers.

The sources denied that there had been any special significance attached to scheduling the test during the final day of the summit. The date was selected by technical people for technical reasons, they maintained.

Reduction of 100,000

Yet the test was expected to do nothing to dissuade the Soviet Union about continuing U.S. military prowess, which might have been called into question when Deputy Defense Secretary William Howard Taft IV announced Monday that budget cuts will force a reduction of about 100,000 service personnel by the mid-1990s.

The test-firing, from a launch pad on land at Cape Canaveral, was arranged as the eighth in a series of Trident checks. The Navy does not plan to begin test launches from submarines until the 15th missile firing.

The Trident to date has carried only eight dummy warheads in tests, though it is capable of carrying 12.

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