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NNSA Completes its Critical Radar Arming and Fuzing Test for the W88 ALT 370

September 25, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently completed an important test for the W88 ALT 370, an alteration to replace the Arming, Fuzing, and Firing assembly of the W88-0/Mk 5, a warhead in its third decade of life.

The Critical Radar Arming and Fuzing Test (CRAFT), flown this summer, was designed to test the new joint Air Force and Navy radar in the W88 ALT 370. The CRAFT was the first of several flight tests planned to demonstrate the functional performance of the upgraded weapon system in ballistic missile flight environments. Radar performance was successfully measured during the harsh conditions of hypersonic atmospheric reentry.

“The CRAFT test marks a significant achievement for the W88 ALT 370 in certification of a safe, secure, and effective stockpile without the necessity to perform underground nuclear explosive testing,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook. “As the first flight test of the program, CRAFT is instrumental in qualification of the Arming and Fuzing radar module in joint development with the Air Force and Navy.”

The test was conducted in partnership with NNSA’s Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Kansas City Plant and Pantex Plant. The early prototype Arming, Fuzing and Firing (AF&F) device designed for the CRAFT flight contained functional components designed and produced by the Sandia Arming and Fuzing Systems Group. Data recorded on board the flight test body was transmitted to ground and sea-based receiving stations using a telemetry system designed and built by the Sandia Telemetry and Stockpile Support Department.

Flight test data analysis confirmed conformance with all flight test objectives. Detailed analysis will continue for purposes of radar design and performance model support, as well as functional requirements validation.

Successful demonstration of the joint radar for the W88 ALT 370 on the CRAFT flight follows on the heels of its successful performance during a drop test of the B61-12 at Tonopah Test Range in August 2013. Both tests affirm confidence in the joint radar development between the W88-0/Mk5 ALT 370, the B61-12, and the Mk21 Fuze Replacement Program.

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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. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce 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.