by Kingston Reif
The charts below outline the FY 2015 budget request for programs at the Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to rebuild the nuclear triad and its associated warheads and their supporting infrastructure.
The charts below do not include all of the government programs associated with operating, sustaining, and modernizing U.S. nuclear forces. In a December 2013 report, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the administration requested $23.1 billion for nuclear forces in FY 2014. Rather, the charts provide a snapshot of the main programs associated with replacing the existing nuclear triad and supporting warhead life extension programs. The budget requests for these programs are slated to grow significantly later this decade and beyond as development and ultimately production of replacement delivery systems and life extended warheads advances.
Some of the highlights of the FY 2015 budget request to rebuild the nuclear triad include:
- The four top priorities are the Ohio class replacement program (SSBN(X)), the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program, the B61 mod 12 life extension program, and the W76-1 life extension program.
- The budget request delays portions of the proposed “3+2” nuclear warhead modernization strategy, most notably the W78/88-1 life extension program, which is delayed by five years.
- The budget request delays the Long Range Standoff Missile (LRSO) program by three years due to the Pentagon’s concerns over NNSA’s funding plan for the associated warhead and other nuclear priorities such as the B61 mod 12 tailkit. The first production unit for the cruise missile warhead life extension program is scheduled for no later than FY 2027 – the same as the expected completion date in last year’s budget submission. According to the NNSA budget request, in November 2013 the Nuclear Weapons Council eliminated the B61 as an option for the Cruise Missile Warhead. Variations of the W80 and W84 will be developed for further consideration.
- The budget request supports funding a 90% engineering design for the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) project through October 2014 and other preparatory activities. Beyond that NNSA is examining alternative approaches to the current scope of the project, including phased approaches and a smaller facility that will eliminate the need for Building 9212 by 2025 and constrain total project cost to no more than $6.5 billion.
- The budget request calls for executing a plutonium strategy that achieves a 30 pit per year capacity by 2026, a five year delay relative to the goal in last year’s budget request to achieve such a capacity by 2021.
Department of Defense – FY 2015 Budget Request for Replacement Nuclear Delivery Systems and Warhead Life Extension SupportNational Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) – FY 2015 Budget Request for Warhead Life Extension Programs, Infrastructure Modernization, and Replacement Nuclear Delivery System Support