NNSA, U.S. Air Force partner on flight test of W78 JTA sensor and hardware payload

WASHINGTON, 10 July 2011. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), working with the U.S. Air Force, has conducted a W78 Joint Test Assembly (JTA) flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Helping to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile, the event employed sensors and hardware used during flight tests to ensure that weapons perform as intended; moreover, it marked the first flight test of Command Receiver Decoder, a new command destruct system developed for the Minuteman program.

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

WASHINGTON, 10 July 2011. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), working with the U.S. Air Force, has conducted a W78 Joint Test Assembly (JTA) flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Helping to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile, the event employed sensors and hardware used during flight tests to ensure that weapons perform as intended; moreover, it marked the first flight test of Command Receiver Decoder, a new command destruct system developed for the Minuteman program.

“JTA flight tests are essential in ensuring that all weapon systems perform as designed,” explains 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, designed to simulate weapon configurations, are assembled at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and are not capable of nuclear yield given that they have no special nuclear materials.

The JTA includes a telemetry system, which collects and transmits data on the warhead. Data is fed into a reliability model developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories to evaluate warhead reliability.

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