NNSA Conducts Two Successful W80 JTA Flight Tests

Press Release
Jun 24, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), working with the U.S. Air Force, conducted two successful W80 Joint Test Assembly (JTA) flight tests last week, helping ensure the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile.

During the two separate test missions at the Utah Test and Training Range outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, the Air Force successfully launched an Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) carrying a JTA. A B52-H originating from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., launched both of the ALCMs.

A JTA contains a set of sensors and hardware used during flight tests to ensure that weapons perform as designed. The purpose of the test was to evaluate overall performance of the nuclear cruise missile weapon system.

“NNSA and DoD are committed to ensuring that all weapon systems perform as designed, and these successful tests continue to illustrate that commitment,” said Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “This strong NNSA/DoD cooperation is vital as we partner in support of our national security.”

NNSA produced the JTAs in support of the Joint Surveillance Flight Test Program between the Department of Defense and the NNSA. The JTAs were built to simulate the actual W80 weapon configuration utilizing as much war reserve hardware as feasible. The JTAs were assembled at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and were not capable of nuclear yield, as the JTAs contained no special nuclear materials.

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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.