Stockpile Stewardship Program
Ensuring Our Nuclear Deterrent Without Testing
More than 25 years after the inception of the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP), the security environment has changed substantially. Today, the national security landscape is increasingly multidomain in character, with nuclear, conventional, space, cyber, and other capabilities all playing a role. The suite of SSP capabilities built to sustain the nuclear deterrent provides important foundational capabilities for this much broader range of important national security missions.
WCI must pursue a fundamentally new approach to ensure the success of the strategic deterrent into the future. We must embrace interdependencies across the nuclear security enterprise (NSE), as well as across domains, and redefine the relationships and interfaces that span this mission space. We must reimagine the entire lifecycle of nuclear weapons, from initial concept through design, engineering, production, deployment, surveillance, maintenance, and dismantlement with a focus on agility and sustainability of the system. And, most importantly, we must continue to drive science, technology, and engineering (ST&E) innovation and nurture an exceptional workforce to provide resilience in the face of this uncertain future.
Today, stewardship requires constant innovation and diligence from LLNL scientists. (Read more in Science and Technology Review: Stockpile Stewardship at 20 Years.)
W80-4 Life Extension ProgramLLNL is partnered with Sandia National Laboratories as the design agencies to develop and certify the W80-4 warhead for the bomber-delivered Long-Range Standoff missile. The project team has finalized most of the major design decisions about the nuclear explosives package (NEP). The plans to refurbish or replace aging components and materials include use of new manufacturing methods that minimize costs, increase throughput, and reduce the need for environmentally sensitive materials and processes.
W87-1 Modification ProgramIn FY 2019, the Lab also restarted Phase 6.2 (program feasibility) work on the W87-1 modification program, which will support deployment of the U.S. Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent by 2030. LLNL is NNSA’s design agency for the NEP for a ballistic-missile warhead to replace the aging W87-0. The W87-1 will be the first modern warhead that is 100 percent newly manufactured. The design will have a strong nuclear test–based pedigree. Activities are focused on technology maturation and design options amenable to modern manufacturing methods.
Excellence in Research Areas Enables Stockpile Stewardship
The democratization of science over the past three decades makes innovation and technical leadership in the core technical fields associated with strategic deterrence even more essential today than at the dawn of the SSP. And, for a select few areas, nothing short of preeminence is our goal.
Annual Stockpile Assessment
Each year, our Lab completes its stockpile assessment, which ultimately ends in a report sent to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This assessment comprises a formal comprehensive peer review by the nuclear design laboratories (Livermore and Los Alamos) of each other’s weapons systems. Our scientists continue to improve the predictability of physics and engineering simulation codes that support the annual assessments and certiﬁcation of weapons.
We are responsible for completing all planned milestones for weapons surveillance activities and performed associated testing and analyses to assess the condition of and sustain the W80, B83, and W87 stockpile systems.