The National Nuclear Security Administration is still awaiting the green light from the Pentagon to begin a massive refurbishment of its arsenal of B61 gravity bombs and W88 submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead, a spokesperson for the Pentagon said Wednesday. the agency.
The agency completed proof-of-concept versions of the refurbished weapons last year and had planned to begin mass production of the refurbished units between May and June, according to the agency’s 2023 budget request. March and congressional testimony in May from the National Nuclear Security Administration. (NNSA) Administrator Jill Hruby.
As of Wednesday, the NNSA was still waiting for the green light from the Pentagon to begin mass production of the refurbished weapons.
“We are currently awaiting formal Pending Authorization Letters from the Nuclear Weapons Council for entry into Phase 6.6, for both the B61-12 LEP and the W88 Alt 370, and expect an update within a month. “, said an agency spokesperson at NNSA headquarters in Washington. wrote in an email Wednesday evening.
The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency is homogenizing four variants of the B61 bomb into the B61-12 and replacing conventional explosives and other key components of the W88 under the W88 Alt-370 program.
The NNSA plans to refurbish some 350 W88 warheads and 460 B61 bombs, according to estimates by the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists, a nongovernmental group that assesses the size of the US nuclear arsenal and the nuclear arsenals of others. countries, using open and other sources.
Including Air Force and NNSA work, the B61-12 will cost between about $11.5 billion and $13 billion over about 20 years, according to documents from the Energy and Defense Departments. The NNSA’s share of the cost of the bomb is about $8.5 billion, the agency estimates.
The NNSA and the Pentagon estimate that the W88 Alt-370 will cost about $4 billion over about 10 years, including up to $3 billion in NNSA expenditures.