WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Nuclear Security Administration said last week that it had reached the halfway point in the production phase of the W76-1 warhead Life Extension Program, or LEP. An event held at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, underscored NNSA’s commitment to meeting the U.S. Navy’s requirements for the W76-1.
Gen. Frank G. Klotz, U.S. Department of Energy under secretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator, was on hand to personally thank the men and women of Pantex who helped achieve the production milestone.
“The W76-1 Life Extension Program is one of several steps we must take as a nation to ensure that America’s smaller nuclear arsenal remains safe, secure, and effective,” Klotz said. “The highly skilled Pantex team will continue to play an indispensable role in protecting the security of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, for many years to come. For that reason, it’s imperative that we continue to invest in the people and in the infrastructure needed to carry out that important, enduring task.”
“This is indeed a significant milestone for our nation and our Navy,” said Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director of the Strategic Systems Programs. “Through the Navy’s continued partnership with NNSA, the team has achieved this important milestone, and I look forward to completion of W76-1 production before the decade is out. The combination of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine and the Trident II D5 Strategic Weapon System operated by our dedicated sailors forms the backbone of our nation’s nuclear deterrent.”
The W76-1 Life Extension Program involves engineers, scientists, and technicians from NNSA’s Pantex Plant, the Y-12 National Security Complex, Savannah River Site, National Security Campus, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.
The W76-1 Life Extension Program first unit was completed in September 2008. The program remains on track to produce and deliver warheads to the Navy in keeping with its commitment to complete production not later than the end of Fiscal Year 2019.
The primary goals of the W76-1 Life Extension Program are to extend the original warhead service life from 20 to 60 years and address aging issues. In addition, the goals of the program are to incorporate nuclear safety enhancements, maximize the reuse of W76-0 components, minimize system certification risk in the absence of underground nuclear testing, and refurbish the system in a proactive and affordable manner.
As a key part of its national security mission, NNSA, through the Office of Defense Programs, ensures that the U.S. nuclear stockpile meets the country’s national security requirements and continues to serve its essential deterrence role.