A senior official at the University of California has been picked to lead nuclear weapons programs at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory effective Feb. 4, the Department of Energy facility said Tuesday.
Kimberly Budil will be principal associate director for weapons and complex integration: the top nuclear weapons job at the Livermore, Calif., laboratory that together with the Sandia National Laboratories handles the lion’s share of the work on the recently sped-up W80-4 life-extension program. The program is designed to produce a refurbished nuclear warhead for a next-generation air-launched cruise missile called the Long-Range Standoff Weapon, which the Pentagon wants to field in the late 2020s.
It will be a return to Livermore for Budil, currently the vice president for national laboratories in the office of University of California President Janet Napolitano. Budil came to the University of California from Livermore in 2014, where she had been program manager of the nuclear counterterrorism program in the lab’s Global Security Directorate.
Before that, Budil was detailed to National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) headquarters in Washington during the George W. Bush administration. Then, as a Livermore detailee, Budil served two years at headquarters’ office of defense science and another two years as a senior adviser to then-NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. Budil has a Ph.D. in applied science and engineering from the University of California, Davis.
Budil will replace Charles Verdon, who left Livermore last year to become deputy administrator for defense programs at National Nuclear Security Administration headquarters. The agency maintains the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons and, through contractors, operates Livermore and its older affiliate laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Lawrence Livermore National Security runs the California laboratory, under a contract awarded in 2007 that with options could run through 2026. The contractor is led by the University of California and Bechtel National, with industry partners AECOM [ACM] and BWX Technologies [BWXT].
At University of California, Napolitano “will be appointing an interim Vice-President for UC National Laboratories in the coming weeks and commencing a search soon to identify a permanent successor,” a spokesperson wrote in an email Tuesday.
Congress last year boosted the W80-4 life extension program’s funding to $650 million for 2019. The nearly a 65-percent year-over-year increase will synch up the warhead’s refurbishment with the Pentagon’s development of the next generation cruise missile that will carry it.
NNSA plans to produce the first war-ready W80-4 by 2025 and the last by 2031. The Pentagon wants to deploy the missile by late next decade. NNSA is working on a Weapon Design and Cost Report for W80-4, which the agency said in its 2019 budget request will be ready between 2019 and 2022.
Raytheon [RTN] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] are maturing competing designs for the Long-Range Standoff Weapon, under four-year contracts awarded in 2017 and worth about $900 million. The Pentagon plans to choose one of these after 2022, when the technology maturation and risk reduction contracts run out.