Wednesday, 10 February 2010
An old one, but not one I had in my collection
"How the US forgot how to make Trident missiles
Inquiry cites loss of files and key staff as reason for $69m repair delay
By Rob Edwards, Environment Editor"
Plans to refurbish Trident nuclear weapons had to be put on hold because US scientists forgot how to manufacture a component of the warhead, a US congressional investigation has revealed.
The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) "lost knowledge" of how to make a mysterious but very hazardous material codenamed Fogbank. As a result, the warhead refurbishment programme was put back by at least a year, and racked up an extra $69 million.
According to some critics, the delay could cause major problems for the UK Trident programme, which is very closely tied to the US programme and uses much of the same technology. The US and the UK are trying to refurbish the ageing W76 warheads that tip Trident missiles in order to prolong their life, and ensure they are safe and reliable. This apparently requires that the Fogbank in the warheads is replaced.