Remember when Gen. Chilton brought an old-school vacuum tube to a meeting with the Wall Street Journal and reportedly suggested that this technology cannot be replaced without building new nuclear warheads? Remember when Jeffrey Lewis and I argued that vacuum tubes have nothing to do with the RRW debate? Remember when Gen. Chilton told Global Security Newswire’s Elaine Grossman that we were “confused, frankly” (i.e. we didn’t know what we were talking about)? Remember when John Harvey, the former head of NNSA’s policy planning staff, and the Washington Times’ Bill Gertz revealed that it was Gen. Chilton who was in fact confused? Of course you do! Well, the saga continues.
Via friend of NoH Nick Roth, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and NNSA Administrator Tom D’Agostino honored the Kansas City Plant’s 60-Year anniversary at DoE headquarters yesterday (the Kansas City Plant produces the non-nuclear components for U.S. nuclear weapons). Both Chu and D’Agostino were presented with “historic” artifacts to commemorate the occasion. Chu’s plaque contained, wait for it, two “1960s-era” vacuum tubes and the “RF-IC based multi-chip module” (i.e. a modern semiconductor device). Head over to NNSA’s website for a video (yes a video; wonkporn at its finest!) of the event. *For the record, D’Agostino was presented with an “orginial watch clock key” which security patrol would use to document entry into and exit from secure areas during the first few decades of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.
In presenting Chu’s plaque, Kansas City Plant officials stated that it
“contains…1960s-era vacuum tubes from the B61 radars that are currently deployed in today’s stockpile. Next to it is the RF-IC based multi-chip module for the next generation radar applications. The use of the new technology will greatly reduce the radar size and manufacturing cost while improving its reliability.” [emphasis mine]
So now the Kansas City Plant is also on record as stating that vacuum tubes are in “the B61 radars” (actually only some of the B61 radars). The radar, you will recall, is a non-nuclear component located outside the physics package. Methinks its long past time for Gen. Chilton to either admit that he misspoke in suggesting vacuum tubes can only be replaced via an RRW-like approach or declare that the Wall Street Journal grossly misinterpreted what he said.