US Nuclear Warhead Modernization Programs Demand Another $ 850 Million - WritenAreGiven


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US Nuclear Warhead Modernization Programs Demand Another $ 850 Million

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Recent problems with upgrading nuclear warheads may cost America up to $ 850 million in addition to just two projects. US Nuclear Warhead Modernization Programs Demand Another $ 850 Million

US Nuclear Warhead Modernization Programs Demand Another $ 850 Million

Recent problems with upgrading nuclear warheads may cost America up to $ 850 million in addition to just two projects. US Nuclear Warhead Modernization Programs Demand Another $ 850 Million

In the middle of this week, the Deputy Head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), Charles Verdon, spoke at a meeting of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces of the US House of Representatives Armed Forces Committee.

The costs associated with the replacement of components in the warheads of two types of warheads - B61-12 and W88 Alt 370 can cost America up to $ 850 million extra. But, according to Verdon, they can be potentially offset by savings from the upcoming modernization of special ammunition, writes the American edition of Defense News. Verdon added that any increase in funding would occur no earlier than the fiscal year 2021, and not through a request to reprogram articles of the fiscal year 2020.

The B61-12 program, which will replace the free-fall nuclear bombs, B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 with a new warhead design, is expected to cost NNSA $ 8.25 billion. The upgraded version of this nuclear bomb will be certified for military use. from the strategic bombers of the B-2 Spirit. In the future, it is planned to equip the prospective B-21 Raider, the American F-15 and F-16 fighters, as well as the German and British Tornado aircraft (in accordance with the previously reached agreements within the NATO bloc ) with the B61-12 bomb. The fifth-generation F-35 fighter is also planned to be certified for the use of these weapons in the next decade.

Modification W88 Alteration 370 is designed to replace the W88 warhead, which is equipped with a Trident II D5 ballistic missile. NNSA estimates the cost of this system at $ 2.7 billion

The problems, first identified by Verdon during a press conference for Defense News on September 4, forced both warhead modernization programs to delay the release of their first production models by about 18-20 months. However, the NNSA still hopes that there will still be no significant delays in the implementation of this program.

The agency has the belief that new special ammunition should be ready for immediate combat use for at least 20-30 years. The problem is that at the present time when using components whose quality and reliability raise questions, there are real risks of failures, but the agency acts solely to achieve the required combat readiness of new warheads over a long service life.
American taxpayers will have to pay about $ 600-700 million for the B61-12 nuclear bomb, and the upgraded version of W88 will cost about $ 120-150 million apiece.
Charles Verdon hopes that the lessons learned can be used in two upcoming upgrades of other warheads - 80-4 and W87-1, which will allow the NNSA to reduce the cost of these programs in the long run. The agency intends to follow the path of "simplification of designs" of special ammunition. This savings, combined with unanticipated funding to compensate for delays in serial production, should be considered from the perspective of the B61 and W88 programs, which have become more expensive in the implementation process, according to NNSA.
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In other words, the two most distant programs now need to increase funding in the short term. But these investments should lead to savings in further stages of project implementation, which will eventually balance them, according to the NNSA.
“This will be our approach - not to request an increase in financing for modernization in the near future, but to balance it in the future in the overall portfolio of the program,” said Charles Verdon. He made this statement before informing House Chairman Jim Cooper (a Republican from Tennessee) that he hopes that he will have more confidence in specific numbers next year.
The problem of components for American nuclear warheads arose when elements for the assembly of special ammunition began to be procured on the side, in commercial organizations. During the Cold War, approximately 70% of NNSA's nuclear warhead components were self-made. Now, this figure is reversed, and currently, about 70% of spare parts are manufactured on the side. Today, this is fraught with new problems that the agency, which has not taken up serious modernization of warheads for many years, simply did not foresee.
“One of the lessons we learned is the diversity in the quality of the components that can exist even within the same supplier and between different lots,” said Charles Verdon. He said that the agency “underestimated” how great the variability in the parameters of components is, and stressed that NNSA is now checking how the quality control of standard components is working.
In response to a question from US Rep. Doug Lambourne (a Republican from the state of Colorado), whether the need to increase the production of new special ammunition is being considered, Charles Verdon said this issue is currently under discussion.
While the NNSA faces certain challenges in upgrading the B61-12, the U.S. Department of Defense is contributing to a new type of bomb, including the development and purchase of new tail kit for the B61-12.
On Tuesday evening, the NNSA announced that it completed three tests of B61-12 bombs last August. And last week, General Timothy Ray, head of the US Air Force Global Strike Command, said he was "very happy." According to him, very good results were obtained.
As previously reported by Gazeta.Ru, the deployment of mass production of American B61-12 type free-fall nuclear bombs and the modernization of warheads for Trident II D5 ballistic missile submarines are facing new delays.
The publication recalls that the problem associated with delays in mass production of the B61 Mod. 12 and W88 Alteration 370, arose due to the quality of components used in both types of these nuclear weapons.
“I believe that the US plans to modernize its nuclear arsenal should be taken seriously and, quite possibly, creatively reviewed some domestic programs,” the former First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces , Chairman of the Committee’s Expert Council , told on the defense of the State Duma .

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