The Honeywell [HON]-led company in charge of building the non-nuclear parts of nuclear weapons might have trouble delivering some of those components on time in 2020 and beyond, the Department of Energy said Thursday.
Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies was already in the hotseat to find replacements for unsuitable capacitors that have delayed two ongoing nuclear weapon refurbishments before the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in the company’s 2019 performance review, revealed that “multiple weapon program components [at the Kansas City plant] are not on track to meet full rate production requirements.”
That means a snafu with at least one part in addition to the commercial-off-the-shelf capacitors that the NNSA until last year planned to use in both the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb life extension program, and the W88 Alt-370 major alteration to the larger of the Navy’s submarine-launched ballistic-missile warheads.
If Honeywell does not deliver parts on time, it could slow work at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, where NNSA repairs and refurbishes all U.S. nuclear weapons.
In May, the NNSA acknowledged that the commercial capacitors would not last as long as the military required. Finding replacement capacitors to plug in to the weapons would add a total of $850 million to the cost of the first-production units of B61-12 W88 Alt-370, the agency later estimated.
Meanwhile, Honeywell has had a hard time getting on the ball with the fixes for B61 and W88, two programs, the NNSA said.
The company’s “ senior leadership did not provide proactive engagement and leadership in support of ongoing warhead modernization activities, in particular the coordination and collaboration required on the B61-12 LEP and the W88 Alt 370 with senior leadership from the Design Agency,” the agency wrote in Honeywell’s latest performance review.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is the design agency for both weapons.