US building first nuclear warhead in FOUR DECADES – won’t be testing it

For those who fear the current administration is catapulting us toward World War III, this story should probably come with a “trigger warning.”

According to a report in The Washington Times, “The United States is building the first new nuclear warhead in 40 years but will do so without nuclear testing, Energy Department officials told Congress on Wednesday.”

The National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) asked for $19.8 billion from U.S. taxpayers for weapons in fiscal 2025, which begins Oct. 1.

“The W93 warhead will be used on submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” The Times reports, citing Senate testimony from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby.

According to the NNSA website, the W93 “is a new program of record being established to meet requirements set by the DoD [Department of Defense].”

“The W93/Mk7 program will provide a modern warhead to the U.S. submarine launched ballistic missile fleet,” the agency promises.

The NNSA explains:

The Navy’s ballistic missile submarine force is the most survivable leg of the Triad and is currently equipped with two warhead types: the W76 and W88. These warheads provide approximately two-thirds of the total U.S. deployed force. The W93 will reduce current over-reliance on the W76 system and will allow the U.S. to keep pace with future adversary threats.

All W93 key nuclear components will be based on currently deployed and/or previously tested nuclear designs, as well as extensive stockpile component and materials experience. However, the W93 will also incorporate modern technologies to improve safety, security, and flexibility to address future threats and will be designed for ease of manufacturing, maintenance, and certification. It will also ensure the continued viability of STRATCOM’s operational flexibility and effectiveness as we transition from Ohio-class submarines to a smaller fleet of Columbia class submarines. The W93 will not require additional nuclear testing to certify.

 

And if that isn’t enough to get your Spidey Senses tingling, know that the W93 program is an international endeavor.

“The W93 program is synchronized with the United Kingdom, which is also modernizing its nuclear forces,” according to the NNSA. “As an allied but independent nuclear power that contributes to NATO’s nuclear deterrent posture, the UK’s nuclear deterrent is critical to U.S. national security per our partnership outlined in the Mutual Defense Agreement (MDA).”

In a joint written statement, Granholm and Hruby told the Senate Committee on Armed Services, “In May 2022, the W93 entered Phase 2, Feasibility Study and Design Options, and remains on track for production starting in the mid-2030s.”

“The Nuclear Weapons Council has directed effort to accelerate the W93 FPU and the FY25 budget request supports this effort,” they wrote. “The W93 is a new warhead program based on existing designs that will not require new underground nuclear explosive testing. The W93 will meet DoD requirements to enhance operational effectiveness of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine force. The W93 will have new pits produced at Savannah River. The program is being undertaken in parallel with the United Kingdom’s Replacement Warhead program continuing our coordination through the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Defense Agreement.”

“Among the warhead’s more sophisticated features is insensitive high explosives used for triggering,” the Daily Mail reports. “It will also have a greater range than the current W76 and W88 warheads.”

“In February, US officials voiced concerns that Russia was developing a type of nuclear weapon that could disable US satellites in outer space,
according to the outlet. “Analysts tracking Russia’s space programs say the space threat is probably not a nuclear warhead but rather a high-powered device requiring nuclear energy to carry out an array of attacks against satellites.”

“These might include signal-jammers, weapons that can blind image sensors, or – a more dire possibility – electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) that could fry all satellites’ electronics within a certain orbital region,” the Daily Mail notes. “The Kremlin has dismissed the allegation that it is developing this kind of weapon.”

Melissa Fine

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