The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) successfully completed the First Production Unit (FPU) of the W76-2 thermonuclear warhead Feb. 22 at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.
The W76-2 FPU represents NNSA’s ability to achieve a significant program milestone in support of a national security initiative requested by the President in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.
“NNSA is fully committed to meeting the requirements of our partners at the Department of Defense,” said Dr. Charles P. Verdon, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. “The W76-2 will allow for tailored deterrence in the face of evolving threats.”
The W76-2 program is a modification of the W76-1 warhead to provide a low-yield, sea-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead capability. The W76-1 is a refurbished W76-0 warhead, which was first introduced into the stockpile for the U.S. Navy in 1978. NNSA has recently completed the Program of Record for the Life Extension Program (LEP) of the W76-1 warhead at its Pantex Plant.
NNSA is on track to complete the W76-2 Initial Operational Capability warhead quantity and deliver the units to the U.S Navy by the end of Fiscal Year 2019.
The U.S. Navy’s currently operational SLBM, UGM-133A Trident II (D5), can carry W-76 warheads inside a Mk-4 re-entry vehicle. The w76 warhead is currently the most numerous weapon in the US nuclear arsenal, having replaced the Poseidon SLBM warhead, the W68, in that capacity.