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W76-1 Life Extension Program

November 15, 2012


  • The W76-0 warhead is a 1970s-era submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) system that was first introduced into the stockpile by the Navy in 1978.
  • The W76 warhead continues to serve a key role in the submarine-launched ballistic missile force structure of the U.S. nuclear deterrent’s triad.
  • The W76 warhead is deployed by the U.S. Navy with the Trident II D5 missile on the Ohio class nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
  • The primary goals of the W76-1 Life Extension Program are to extend the original warhead service life from 20 to 60 years, address identified aging issues,), incorporate nuclear surety enhancements and minimize system certification risk in the absence of underground nuclear testing and refurbish the system in a managed affordable manner.
  • NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories designed the original W76-0 warhead, and are the design agencies for the refurbished W76-1 warhead.
  • The W76-1 Life Extension Program involves engineers, scientists, and technicians from the Pantex Plant, Y-12 National Security Complex, Savannah River Site, Kansas City Plant, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
  • The warhead assembly and disassembly processes utilize the rigid Seamless Safety for the 21st Century (SS-21) process at the Pantex Plant. NNSA’s SS-21 process fully integrates the weapon system with the facility, tooling, operating procedures, and personnel involved to form a safe, efficient, and effective operating environment.
  • The refurbishment program’s First Production Unit was achieved in September 2008 and the first delivery of warheads to the Navy for deployment was completed in 2009.
  • The NNSA continues to achieve its production and delivery schedules of returning refurbished warheads to the Navy for redeployment.