The primary goal of the Office of Test and Evaluation is to ensure that the warheads and bombs in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile are safe, secure, and reliable by:
The Office of Test and Evaluation is responsible for supporting science, technology, and engineering planning through the Life Extension Program (LEP) process including: 1) coordinating the Annual Assessment process to assure the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile by managing experiments with special nuclear material and surrogates; 2) managing the plutonium and hydrodynamic experiments, providing key data and integrated surrogate hydrodynamic experiments to support stockpile stewardship and national security needs without explosive nuclear testing; and 3) managing the development of capabilities to assess and certify the safety, reliability, and performance of the nuclear explosive package and non-nuclear weapon engineering components throughout the lifetime of a nuclear weapon.
Assessment Surveillance Requirements (ASR)
The Division of Assessment Surveillance Requirements (ASR) develops and directs capabilities to assess and certify the safety, reliability, and performance of the nuclear explosive package and non-nuclear weapon engineering components throughout the lifetime of a nuclear weapon. Additionally, ASR seeks to maximize confidence in the design of all components and subsystems and increase the ability to predict their response to external stimuli (large thermal, mechanical, and combined forces and extremely high radiation fields) and the effects of aging, to develop essential engineering capabilities and infrastructure, and to increase the weapon’s resistance to malign unauthorized use. ASR consists of the following four subprograms:
Assessment: Integrated assessment program underpinned by science and technology that sets expectations for future assessments to integrate into the Annual Assessment process.
Weapons Systems Engineering Assessment Technology: Provides the scientific understanding, experimental capability, diagnostic development and data required to develop and validate engineering computational models.
Nuclear Survivability: Develops the tools and techniques needed to design and qualify components and subsystems to meet requirements for intrinsic radiation, natural space, and hostile environments; supports a Department of Energy/Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding to address performance response to threats.
Enhanced Surveillance: Provides the tools needed to predict or detect the precursors of age-related defects and provide accurate engineering estimates of component or system lifetimes. Enhanced Surveillance has two primary objectives in support of the Directed Stockpile Work: aging analysis and lifetime assessments (e.g. predictive modeling, significant finding investigations, and LEPs) and diagnostics development.
Nuclear Experiments (NE)
The Division of Nuclear Experiments (NE) supports the Office of Research, Development, Test and Evaluation by planning, programming and budgeting focused and integrated experiments with surrogates and special nuclear material. This Division oversees this portfolio with a focus on experiments and associated operations at the Nevada National Security Site, Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory and other firing sites, and manages the plutonium experiments and hydrodynamic experiments of the Dynamic Materials Properties, Advanced Certification, and Primary Assessment sub-campaigns, along with the portfolio of plutonium, hydrodynamic, and subcritical experiments formerly part of Directed Stockpile Work Research and Development. Nuclear Experiments provides the key plutonium experimental data and integrated surrogate hydrodynamic experiments to support stockpile stewardship and national security needs, without nuclear explosive testing. A secondary purpose of these experiments is to provide training for stockpile stewards.
Banner photo: Air-gas breakdown when Z Machine at Sandia National Laboratories fires