The Pantex Plant wrapped up production of the W80-1 Alt 369, which replaced limited life components for the warhead that tips the Air Force’s AGM-86b Air Launched Cruise Missile, the Amarillo, Texas, plant said recently.
Pantex announced the milestone in a press release earlier this month. Limited life components include tritium reservoirs, neutron generators and power sources. The W80-1 Alt 369 entered its production run in 2017.
The W80 warhead is set for a full-on life extension program, called W80-4, later this decade. The first production unit for the refurbished weapon, which will tip the Raytheon Technologies [RTX]-built Long Range Standoff weapon cruise missile intended to succeed the AGM-86b, will be finished around 2025, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has said. The agency owns and maintains U.S. nuclear warheads and bombs.
W80-4 is supposed to enter the production engineer phase, which includes much of the work for the first production unit, in fiscal year 2022, according to the NNSA’s latest budget.
The NNSA requested some $690 million for W80-4 in fiscal year 2022, up more than 25 percent compared with the 2021 appropriation of $540 million or so. The NNSA is also seeking $10 million in fiscal year 2022 for a W80-4 ALT-SLCM program: the alteration of the air-launched warhead into a warhead for a planned sea-launched cruise missile.