WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) achieved a significant milestone for the W80-4 Life Extension Program (LEP) in February when the Nuclear Weapons Council authorized the Development Engineering phase of the life extension process.

The W80-4 will be the U.S. Air Force’s Long Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile.  Together, the W80-4 and LRSO will play an important role in maintaining a deterrent capability for U.S. aircraft, namely the B-52 and B-21. 

“This milestone is the culmination of three years of hard work by a team of extremely talented and dedicated people across the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” said Brig. . Ron Allen, NNSA's Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “I could not be prouder of the W80-4 team and all they have accomplished so far on this important program.”

Development Engineering is phase 6.3 of the Nuclear Weapons Life Cycle. NNSA and the Department of Defense will now conduct experiments, tests, and analyses to develop and validate the selected design option.

The W80-4 is a life extension for the W80-1, which was first introduced into the stockpile in 1982 and used with the air-launched cruise missile. The LEP extends the warhead’s service life while improving its safety, security, and reliability.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is leading the nuclear design for the program while Sandia National Laboratories is overseeing non-nuclear components.

Other key partners in this effort include Los Alamos National Laboratory, Kansas City National Security Campus, Y-12 National Security Complex, the Pantex Plant, Savannah River Site, and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.