The Pantex Plant, operated by Consolidated Nuclear Security, has announced the successful assembly of the W88 Alt 370 First Production Capability Unit (FPCU).
The W88 nuclear warhead, designed by the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, entered the stockpile in late 1988 and is deployed on the Navy’s Trident II D5 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) system on Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The W88 Alteration (Alt) 370 program includes numerous updates to address aging, enhance nuclear safety, and support future life extension program options.
Extending the life of the W88 strengthens our Nation’s deterrent while ensuring this U.S. Navy strategic weapon remains reliable and effective.
The FPCU, an important milestone, is a non-nuclear explosive prototype that allows Pantex staff to exercise processes to ensure readiness for rate production. In previous life extension programs, it was referred to as the First Production Prototype Assembly. This achievement was accomplished four weeks ahead of schedule through outstanding teamwork from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Kansas City National Security Campus, and Consolidated Nuclear Security.
“This milestone highlights the tremendous leadership by our federal program managers and the dedication by the employees at our labs, plants, and sites to meet Department of Defense requirements and support our national security objective,” said Brig. Gen. Ty Neuman, NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “Extending the life of the W88 strengthens our Nation’s deterrent while ensuring this U.S. Navy strategic weapon remains reliable and effective."
NNSA’s federal program manager for the W88 Alt 370, Jay Pape, congratulated the team for their efforts. “Through their hard work and dedication to the mission, Pantex has shown us yet again the importance of their role in the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” said Pape. “The W88 Alt 370 program continues to demonstrate that NNSA can execute our warhead modernization activities and fulfill our commitment to the U.S. Navy.”
Pantex site manager Todd Ailes added to the praise for employees. “Reaching this milestone required tremendous effort from Pantex employees at all levels, collaboration from thousands of workers at sites across the country, and a close working relationship with NNSA,” said Ailes. “The success of this program has required high standards of safety, security, and quality from all involved. I commend everyone involved for their contributions.”
The W88 Alt 370 team will incorporate these results and will exercise this process again prior to the start of the First Production Unit. NNSA is prepared to ramp up productions operations in support of the warhead program.