DOE finds problems with missile program

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Nuclear missile management > B61-12 program problems include scheduling issues, cost overrun potential, coordination problems

By Tris DeRoma

The U.S. Department of Energy has highlighted problems in the life extension program of the B61-12 nuclear missile, one of the oldest weapons in the country’s nuclear arsenal.
The issues included scheduling problems between Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, the potential for cost overruns, and the inability to get the two labs to work together.
“Given the critical national security mission, as well as the significant cost of the project, we initiated this audit to determine whether (the National Nuclear Safety Administration) was effectively managing the B61-12 LEP (Life Extension Program),” said the DOE’s Acting Inspector General Rickey Hass in a memorandum to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories are working on ways to extend the missile’s life by at least 20 years. Sandia is working to add a guidance system to the tail and LANL’s role is to update the weapon’s other components.
The first completed unit is due in March 2020. The project’s estimated cost is $8.1 billion.
NNSA manages the life-extension program. The B61 started life in 1963 when it was known as the TX-61.

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