AMARILLO, Texas – The last production unit for the W80-1 Alteration (Alt) 369 weapon was recently completed at Pantex following extensive planning, collaboration, and work execution. After several years of developing the design, the first production unit was completed in late 2017. The final production unit was completed in early May 2021, while maintaining all COVID-19 precautions and protocols.
The Alt 369 Program was a major collaborative effort among Pantex, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Headquarters, the NNSA Production Office, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Kansas City National Security Campus, and the Savannah River Site. The program team solved multiple technical issues and overcame unprecedented challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The completion of this program was the culmination of multiple years of effort at Pantex along with support from all across the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” said Pantex Site Manager Todd Ailes. “To be able to complete this Alt here at Pantex, especially during COVID, is an amazing effort. Even in a pandemic and facing its unique challenges presented to the team during production, we prevailed. When those challenges occurred, our team looked at unique ways to resolve any issue and did so successfully.”
The W80-1 Alt 369 program received top priority as a Tier One Project, resulting in complete support for the continued production schedule. During the pandemic, NNSA began categorizing production priorities to ensure the highest priority mission needs were preserved. Tier One projects received top priority, resulting in complete support for the continued production schedule of the designated program.
“We had a great team of Pantexans assembled, and the pandemic was a big challenge for all of us,” said Chad Hall, Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) Production Manager of the W80 Alt 369. “Our team developed a protocol that allowed us to work in a safe environment, and it allowed us to continue these very important mission operations.”
This Alt replaced critical components and upgraded hardware to sustain the weapon system. Although surveillance work on the W80-1 Alt 369 will continue throughout the life of the program, the program of record is completed.
“Having been associated with this effort since the first Alt 369 unit was completed in 2017, this milestone triggered many memories of the efforts, the challenges, the successes, and most importantly,
the people involved. It is truly a significant accomplishment involving many sites and many people,” said Steve Ufford, CNS Stockpile Systems manager.
“In the context of America’s Nuclear Triad of air, land, and sea weapons, it’s an air-delivered weapon system. It’s mated into an air launch cruise missile warhead that is launched from a B-52, the only such system to be carried on a cruise missile in the Nation’s stockpile. This ensures our Nation and its nuclear deterrence is maintained,” said Michael Morgan, NNSA Cruise Missile team lead.
“Completion of the W80-1 Alt 369 unit is a major milestone and significant accomplishment for the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Completing this last unit represents years of effort by multiple stakeholders across the Enterprise. This milestone ensures that we have a safe, reliable nuclear deterrent,” said Jessica Holloway, director of NNSA for Air Delivered Weapons Division.
Because of this successful effort, NNSA will be able to sustain the W80-1 system until its replacement system can be fielded in the future through its Major Modernization activities.
“Now that this is completed, we can move resources to the next systems,” Melissa Moore, CNS Program Manager for the W80-1 Alt 369, said. “There is a group that will support other Major Modernization efforts, such as the B61-12, the W88 Alt 370, and the W80-4, which will be the next iteration of this particular weapon system.”
This milestone marks another example of the National Security Enterprise coming together to meet the Nation’s national security needs, and demonstrates CNS’s commitment to adapt and deliver.
Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC operates the Pantex Plant, located in Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex, located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, under a single contract for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration. Pantex and Y-12 are key facilities in the U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise, and CNS performs its work with a focus on performance excellence and the imperatives of safety, security, zero defects, and delivery as promised.
For more information on each site, visit www.pantex.com or www.y12.doe.gov. Follow Pantex and Y-12 on Facebook and Twitter.