The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge has been approved to build parts for a system being replaced in the W88 nuclear warhead, which is deployed on submarine-launched missiles, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The W88 has been a key part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent since it became part of the weapons stockpile in 1988, the NNSA said on its website Tuesday. But it needs maintenance.
The W88 Alteration (Alt) 370 program will replace the warhead’s Arming, Fuzing, and Firing, or AF&F, subsystem and address other aging issues to maintain its current state of readiness, the NNSA said.
Y-12 has been approved to build component parts for the W88 Alt 370 nearly two years ahead of schedule.
“This early engineering authorization will help ensure that the program stays on track when it reaches First Production Unit, currently scheduled for December 2019,” the NNSA said. “The milestone was possible due to the qualification of several test specimens and the availability of pre-existing inventory.”
The final design review of the AF&F subsystem was recently completed at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. An independent panel reviewed the AF&F requirements as well as several other aspects of the electrical and mechanical design and manufacturing, according to the NNSA.
“The panel recommended a ‘pass with no conditions’—the best possible outcome—and praised the team for conducting an outstanding review,” the NNSA said. “Some panel members, including a U.S. Navy representative, said that it was the best design review they had ever seen.”
The W88 is deployed on the U.S. Navy’s Trident II D5 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile system on Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The W88 Alt 370 program is a joint effort by Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the Kansas City National Security Campus, the Pantex Plant, and the Savannah River Site.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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