Pantex Begins Disassembly of a W84 Warhead

Press Release
Sep 28, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has completed disassembly and inspection of the first W84 at NNSA’s Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. This milestone marks the beginning of the disassembly and inspection process for the W84, a thermonuclear warhead that entered the stockpile in 1983. The disassembly and inspection process will confirm that the system, which has not been disassembled since 1998, has not experienced any safety-related aging issues.

The project team consisting of members from NNSA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories in California and Pantex worked together for 24 months and completed the project ahead of schedule.

“Disassembly and inspection of this system allows us to look at its components to find out how the weapon has aged,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook. “This analysis helps us maintain a safe, secure and effective stockpile without the need for nuclear testing. The scientific and technical knowledge we gain when we disassemble a weapon is invaluable as we look across all of our systems.”

The completion of W84 Seamless Safety for the 21st Century (SS-21) project was part of the NNSA’s top ten priorities for Fiscal Year 2010.

NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories designed the W84 warhead, which supported part of the nation’s nuclear cruise missiles programs. The U.S. produced the W84 warhead in the 1980s. The delivery platform was the BGM-109G Gryphon Ground Launched Cruise Missile which was decommissioned as part of the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Initial Operations Capability date for the W84 was December 1983.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.