The Department of Energy said Thursday its scientists are taking the final steps to modernize the W88 thermonuclear warhead for Navy Trident II ballistic missiles.
After a four-year effort to alter the warhead with new arming, fuzing and firing components and add a new safety feature, a team from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories has been authorized to begin production engineering, with the first unit scheduled for delivery in late 2019.
The weapon, designed for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, entered the stockpile in late 1988 following below-ground nuclear tests of components at the Nevada Test Site, now the Nevada National Security Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It remains a cornerstone of the U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said this “important milestone” in the W88 alteration program was completed on schedule.