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In the early 1960s the British nuclear deterrence was still based on strategic bombers, but in that time the advances in radar
and missile technology started to render bombers as vulnerable weapons which would be unlikely to penetrate Soviet airspace.
Free-fall nuclear weapons would no longer be a credible deterrent so United Kingdom quickly had to turn towards the submarine
weapon. The first SSBN of the Resolution class was hastily developed from a hull of the Valiant-class SSN, by placing a sixteen-cell
missile section between the command center and the reactor room.
Four of these British SSBN were launched between 1966 and 1968, and it has been regretted by many that the fifth unit were never
built. It is noteworthy that France, facing a much greater effort, managed to build six units of the Le Redoutable class. The
British SSBN program obtained much assistance from United States, which provided the ballistic missile Polaris A-3, and it is
curious the resemblance of these submarines with the American counterparts of the La Fayette class. However, the British provided
their own nuclear warheads and reentry vehicles to have full control over their ballistic weapons.
In the 1980s the Polaris missiles suffered from age-related deterioration and they required the replacement of their rocket engines,
which in turn required the very expensive reopening of production lines and the reutilization of technology from the 1960s. The three reentry
vehicles originally fitted in the missiles were replaced as well to overcome the updated Soviet defenses. The program - codenamed
Chevaline - was based in the fascinating idea that instead of using decoys that resemble reentry vehicles it would be better to
prepare the actual vehicles to resemble decoys.
For the subsequent class of British SSBN, the Vanguard, it was decided to purchase the much more advanced missile Trident II D-5,
which has an operational range of roughly 12000 kilometers, in contrast with the 4650 kilometers that a Polaris A-3 could reach. The units
of the Resolution class were decommissioned between 1992 and 1996, to be replaced by another four SSBN. Once again, the fifth unit
was not built, which considerable reduces the number of missiles that are active at a given moment.
Resolution class: 4 units (S22 Resolution, S23 Repulse, S26 Renown, S27 Revenge)
Type: Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine
Length: 129.5 meters
Beam: 10.1 meters
Draught: 9.1 meters
Displacement (surfaced): 7600 tonnes
Displacement (submerged): 8500 tonnes
Propulsion: 1 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine English Electric, 1 x nuclear reactor Vickers/Rolls-Royce PWR1, 30000 shaft horsepower
Speed (surfaced): 20 knots (37 kilometers/hour)
Speed (submerged): 25 knots (46.3 kilometers/hour)
Range: Theoretically unlimited
Operational depth: 275 meters
Armament: 16 x Polaris A-3 SLBM, 6 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube