Sep 27, 2007

Replacement pit for W88 nuke approved

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The first W88 nuclear warhead to employ a replacement pit has been approved for the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

The National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement Thursday that "the first W88 nuclear warhead to employ a replacement pit officially was certified for entry into the United States nuclear weapons stockpile."

"An essential piece of every U.S. nuclear weapon, the pit is typically made of plutonium and acts as a trigger, allowing a weapon to function. NNSA recently restored its ability to manufacture pits in small quantities," the statement said.

“Rebuilding this W88 was an enormous undertaking that took NNSA over a decade and required the tremendous scientific and engineering expertise of the entire nuclear weapons complex,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “I am proud that we were able to get the job done and accomplish this great feat with the W88.”

The NNSA said that the W88 warhead "was able to be re-assembled, certified and accepted into the stockpile with a replacement pit without conducting an underground nuclear test. Certification was possible because of NNSA’s powerful experimental tools, supercomputers, and improved computer models."

The NNSA said that the restored W88 warhead was put together at NNSA’s Pantex Plant and that it was "the first nuclear weapon to use a replacement plutonium pit."

"In July, NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory produced the first pit for the stockpile in 18 years. The warhead also required a replacement gas transfer system that was manufactured at NNSA’s Kansas City Plant and filled with gas at the Savannah River Site. The gas transfer system is essential to assure a weapon’s performance," the agency said.

“Any replacement component added to a system as complex as a nuclear weapon presents a tremendous challenge. As we extend the lives of our current aging warheads, and continue to move further and further from the original tested designs, this process becomes increasingly complicated,” D’Agostino said.


Anonymous said...

Gee. I wonder if turning LANL into a pit factory is what NNSA has planned for us?

Anonymous said...

You think so, 4:37 PM?

No, if that was the case then NNSA would have had LANS file a DOE 3161 'Restructuring Plan' and D'Aostino would be seen out in public so soften putting up a strong defense of the lab's diversified science base.

Stop being so conspiratorial, 4:37 PM. Everything is just fine at LANL. Both basic and diversified science at LANL couldn't be better. Terry Wallace has said so. Go back to sleep and don't worry about a thing.

Oh, and the new CMRR building being prepped to assist with the forthcoming pit factory. Ignore all that construction. It's just a figment of your overly vivid imagination.

Anonymous said...

"Certification was possible because of NNSA’s powerful experimental tools, supercomputers, and improved computer models."

Gee. When we make a mistake, LANL is the bad boy and deserves to be punished. When we do something right, it is NNSA's accomplishment. I also note that LANL did not get credit for designing and qualifying the replacement GTS. Nice, Tom. :(

Anonymous said...

Ah.. the Reliable Replacement Pit (RRP) ...