Security milestone for the nation
The Stockpile Stewardship program achieved another major technical milestone late month with the production of the first life extended W76-1 Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead.
This culminates more than a decade of work by scientists and engineers at the Laboratory and across the nuclear weapons complex. The achievement relied on many of the newest tools of the stockpile stewardship, including the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility (DARHT) at Los Alamos, Site 300 at Lawrence Livermore, supercomputers at both physics laboratories, the environmental testing capability at Sandia National Laboratories, and a series of successful flight tests with the U.S. Navy.
“The [Laboratory’s] Life Extension Program team overcame numerous significant technical and programmatic challenges and established a new benchmark for weapons systems engineering excellence,” said Bret Knapp, associate director for Weapons Engineering (ADWE). “The team’s hard work in successfully fielding the W76-1 is a direct reflection of their extraordinary skill and dedication to the mission and the Laboratory’s continuing commitment to providing the best science and engineering in support of U.S national security.”
Designed at Los Alamos and placed into the stockpile in 1978, the W76 was deployed with an expected service life of some 15-20 years. The W76 warhead constitutes a significant fraction of the nation’s on-alert and most survivable element of the nuclear deterrent. As a result of the Life Extension Program, this warhead will continue to help ensure the security of the United States and its friends and allies across the globe for decades to come.