The semiautonomous Department of Energy nuclear stockpile steward completed the first production unit of the W80-1 Alt 369 “before fiscal year 2017 came to a close,” Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, the NNSA’s principal assistant deputy administrator for military application, said in a Tuesday press release.
An NNSA spokesperson in Washington said the agency completed the first production unit on Sept. 30.
The W80-1 warhead entered the U.S. stockpile in 1982 and is used on the Air Force’s air-launched cruise missile: a 1980s-vintage missile that will be replaced in the late 2020s by the new Long-Range Standoff weapon being designed by Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Raytheon [RTN] under a Pentagon contract awarded in August. The new missile will use a refurbished W80-family warhead called the W80-4.
The Alt 369 modification for the W80-1 “replaces Limited Life Components in the warhead,” according to the NNSA. These include neutron generators needed to speak a nuclear chain reaction, batteries, and other non-nuclear components of a warhead that degrade with age. With the first production unit complete, the NNSA will now begin altering the remaining in-service W80-1 warheads in the same way. That work is due to be completed in December 2020, the agency said.
The alteration will not change the warhead’s “operational capabilities,” the agency said.
NNSA contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security does Alt 369 work at the agency’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.
Consolidated Nuclear Security is a partnership of Bechtel National, Leidos [LDOS], Orbital ATK [OA], and SOC, with subcontractor Booz Allen Hamilton [BAH]. The company’s 10-year contract, awarded in 2013, includes a five-year base period and three options.