WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the U.S. Air Force recently performed a successful test of the W87 Joint Test Assembly (JTA) delivered by a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
The joint flight testing program helps ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile. JTAs are built to simulate actual weapon configurations utilizing as much war-reserve hardware as feasible.
“JTA flight tests are essential in ensuring that all weapon systems perform as designed,” said Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “The working relationship between NNSA and the Department of Defense is vital as we continue our strong partnership in support of our national security.”
NNSA produces JTAs in support of the Joint Surveillance Flight Test Program between the Department of Defense and the NNSA. JTAs are assembled at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and are not capable of nuclear yield, as they contain no special nuclear materials.
The JTA includes a telemetry system, which collects and transmits data from the warhead. The data is fed into models developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories to evaluate performance and reliability.
A photo of the Minuteman launch can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nnsanews
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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.