NNSA Conducts Successful W87 JTA Flight

Press Release
Jun 24, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced it recently completed a successful test of a Joint Test Assembly (JTA) for the W87 warhead. The test was conducted in close working cooperation with the U.S. Air Force.

JTA flight“This successful JTA test illustrates NNSA’s commitment to ensuring that all weapon systems perform as designed,” said Brig. Gen. Garrett Harencak, NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “The continued strong cooperation between the NNSA and DoD is vital to U.S. national security.”

The W87 JTA flew from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on board a Minute Man III missile. The Air Force assesses missile performance and reliability and NNSA assesses the same for the warhead.

This Series 4 W87 JTA is the most sophisticated and complete warhead replica, now flown for the third time. The JTA’s sensors and resulting data prove that the W87 performed as designed. The test evaluated overall performance of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile weapon system.

NNSA designed and produced the JTAs. As part of the Joint Flight Test Program, NNSA and the Air Force share the cost of the JTA. The JTAs simulate actual weapon configuration and use as much war reserve hardware as feasible.

The JTA includes a telemetry system which collects and transmits data on the warhead. The data is fed into a reliability model developed by Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to evaluate the warhead reliability.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized 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 United States and abroad.