Global Security Newswire
Nov 5, 2012
Specialized Planning Needs Contribute to B-61 Expense Boost: Pentagon
planned updates to the U.S. stockpile of B-61 nuclear gravity bombs
would require the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico to carry
out significantly more engineering activities than the National Nuclear
Security Administration has acknowledged, an oversight responsible in
large part for the agency's incorrectly low projection of the effort's
expense, according to U.S. Defense Department findings reported by the
Albuquerque Journal on Sunday.
Staffing demands for B-61
modernization activities would probably necessitate more than the 600
specialists anticipated by the Sandia laboratory, according to an
abstract of findings by the Defense Department's Cost Assessment and
Program Evaluation office. The National Nuclear Security Administration
-- a semiautonomous branch of the Energy Department -- has not described
how it would provide additional specialists to update the bomb's
schematics and assemble the altered weapon with new parts, the CAPE
A 2010 NNSA estimate placed at $3.9 billion the
expense of extending the lives of the decades-old tactical armaments,
thought by nongovernmental analysts to number around 400. The agency's
projection reached $6.8 billion by July, and the Defense Department
later suggested the price tag would rise to $10.4 billion and the
program time line would increase by 36 months.
Plans to update
and reproduce almost every interior B-61 part are a large, unnecessary
contributor to the initiative's projected expense, according to
detractors of the effort.
One-time Sandia laboratory vice
president Bob Peurifoy said there are no indications of any necessity
for steps now being taken to rebuild the 29 key elements that almost
constitute the weapon in its entirety.
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