At the end of March, the 2016 was held in Washington under the leadership of the United States, the next nuclear security summit. Russia refused to participate in it. In February, 2016, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that Moscow rules out the possibility of continuing negotiations with Washington on the reduction of nuclear arsenals. According to him, Moscow believes that Russia and the United States have come to a situation where bilateral Russian-American negotiations in the field of nuclear security are not possible. Among the main factors influencing the state of affairs, Moscow names the development of the American missile defense system in Europe and the sanctions imposed against Russia.
Meanwhile, Washington is building up its potential: at the NATO summit in the summer of 2016, the United States will push through the alliance’s expanded nuclear strategy. Plans are underway to replace the outdated B-61 free-fall nuclear bombs with a new modification of B-61-12. At the expense of technical means, they become extended-range tactical nuclear warheads. Airplanes will be able to use these bombs without entering the zone of destruction of enemy air defenses.
For a more attentive and confident consideration of the American government in preparing the country's armed forces and the armed forces of the NATO countries for a war with the use of nuclear weapons It would be interesting and useful to take a look at the entire process of developing and producing nuclear ammunition in the United States for various means of delivering them to targets.
DEVELOPMENT AND MANUFACTURE OF NUCLEAR AMMUNITION IN THE USA
The United States began the study, development, testing and development of nuclear weapons in 1940. Four ministries or agencies have worked to resolve issues of creating nuclear warheads and nuclear weapons in general, practically for more than 60 years of the last century, and they continue to work to date. In particular, these works and activities involved: Manhattan Engineering District - 1942 – 1946 years, Atomic Energy Commission - 1947 – 1974 years, Administration for Development and Research of Energy - 1975 – 1977 years, the Department of Energy - from 1977 of the year to the present. All of the aforementioned US government agencies spent, together, about 89 billion dollars (in 1986 prices of the financial year - 230 billion dollars). While the Ministry of Defense spent about 700 billion dollars (1,85 trillion dollars in 1986 prices of the fiscal year) to develop and manufacture means for delivering nuclear ammunition to targets (aircraft, missiles and ships) and other related activities.
Since the beginning of the 1947 activities of the Atomic Energy Commission, the military and political leadership of the United States has taken steps to separate the development and production of nuclear warheads from military units and units that planned and intended to use nuclear weapons in combat. A similar practice of separating these activities exists in the USA to the present, but the relationship between the producer and the consumer, of course, is significantly modified. From the very first days of the creation of nuclear warheads, the Atomic Energy Commission was the only organization in the country that defined the main directions for the development and creation of nuclear warheads. It had all the rights to the physical safety of all nuclear weapons in the United States, including even those munitions that were in the military. However, over time, the Atomic Energy Commission gradually lost control over the physical content of nuclear weapons, its status has changed in the direction of reducing its tasks.
PHYSICAL PRESERVATION AND SEPARATION OF RESPONSIBILITY
The struggle for the physical safety of the nuclear ammunition in parts and divisions of the US Armed Forces was carried out mainly in the volume of transfer of responsibility for ammunition that was under the responsibility of civilian specialists, under the control of the military. However, step by step, the Atomic Energy Commission gradually transferred physical control over the nuclear warheads in the military to the military. Moreover, the transfer of control functions took place sequentially: first, the non-nuclear components of ammunition were transferred to the military, and then the entire ammunition. These activities were followed by the transfer of low-power nuclear warheads to the military, then high-power warheads and, finally, a reserve.
The first steps were taken on 14 on June 1950, when US President Harry Truman approved the transfer of non-nuclear components of the 90 devices for training the assembly of ammunition to a special team for assembling nuclear warheads. However, in July 1950 of the year, several weeks after the start of the Korean War, the US president instructed the Atomic Energy Commission “to transfer physical control of nuclear capsules (this is a nuclear weapon without fissile material) to the command of the Air Force or Navy to deploy nuclear ammunition certain areas of the world across the ocean. "
In the spring of 1951, President Truman ordered a special directive addressed to the Atomic Energy Commission to deliver a small amount of nuclear components to the island of Guam and place them in appropriate nuclear warehouses.
The following year, the military’s demands for complete physical control over nuclear warheads increased significantly, and this requirement was actively supported by the leadership of the KNS Armed Forces and the country's defense minister. These actions led to the fact that on September 10 of 1952, the US president signed a document setting out the official American concept on atomic weapons. The most noteworthy part of this concept was that the US Department of Defense gained complete control over the nuclear munitions in the overseas territories, as well as over part of the country's nuclear munitions located directly in the continental United States. The document also indicated that the number of nuclear weapons at the disposal of the military on the continent is determined by the volume sufficient for the flexible use of this strategic reserve of nuclear warheads in any emergency situations. At the same time, the Atomic Energy Commission retained control of the rest of the nuclear warheads.
The appearance of thermonuclear warheads in the US nuclear arsenal introduced new assessments and changed the general procedure in the plans for the strategic use of nuclear weapons. For example, in 1955, US President Dwight Eisenhower decided to transfer all thermonuclear warheads to less than 600 CT power to the country's Ministry of Defense. The same thermonuclear warheads, whose power exceeded 600 kt, were left under the control of the Atomic Energy Commission. However, later in 1959, Eisenhower ordered that the Ministry of Defense control all nuclear weapons, including nuclear warheads, whose power exceeded 600 CT. Thus, the US Department of Defense after this presidential decree began to own more than 82% of the country's total nuclear arsenal.
By the middle of 1960, the Atomic Energy Commission had at its disposal a very small fraction of the nuclear weapons. At 1966 fiscal year, money was allocated for the maintenance of 1800 nuclear warheads, which accounted for 6% of the country's total arsenal. Due to the fact that these nuclear warheads have already been placed in eight warehouses under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense, the government managed to somewhat reduce the total cost of the storage and maintenance of the warheads by reducing duplicate work during all these activities.
President Lyndon Johnson 10 February 1967 of the year decided to transfer all nuclear warheads controlled by the Atomic Energy Commission to the Ministry of Defense. Thanks to this instruction, the military concentrated all ready-to-use nuclear ammunition in their hands, ensuring their physical storage and maintenance, safety and necessary troop maintenance.
The Ministry of Defense worked in full and constant contact with the Ministry of Energy in tracking the state and life cycle of each nuclear weapon in their hands. Each warhead received a full cycle of maintenance and attention and was always under the control of the leadership of both ministries. At the initial stage, the Atomic Energy Commission dominated in determining the directions of US construction and nuclear policy, in the possibilities for their production, placing them in warehouses and observing the means of safe and reliable handling of them, as well as ensuring their physical protection and safety. Currently, even taking into account the possibilities of the Ministry of Energy to create nuclear warheads for various purposes and for various weapons systems or delivery systems, its role has been significantly reduced to the level of providing technical support needed by military specialists. Kinds of the armed forces and command, with the approval of the Ministry of Defense, establish tactical and technical characteristics - the geometric dimensions, weight and power of the ammunition, as well as other requirements for the next batch of nuclear warheads. The Ministry of Defense develops and manufactures delivery vehicles, the necessary support equipment, and also provides training for service personnel and relocates nuclear weapons to places and regions consistent with the strategic plans of the country's military-political leadership.
The Department of Energy is responsible for the development, testing, production, assembly and disassembly of warheads. It also produces special nuclear material: uranium, plutonium, tritium, as well as the components of the head parts, certifies the quality of storage through continuous monitoring of storage facilities. Both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Energy verify the storage reliability, the standardization of the necessary measures and the systematic maintenance of nuclear warheads.
A number of sources report that during the period from 1945 to 1986, the United States produced and delivered 60262 type 71 nuclear weapons for 116 nuclear weapons of the US Armed Forces in the United States. Of the specified number of types of nuclear weapons 42 type of ammunition were removed from service and subsequently dismantled, the remaining 29 types of ammunition, as of 1986 year, were in service with units and formations of the US and NATO armed forces intended for combat using nuclear weapons. Of the 71 types of nuclear ammunition of the type of ammunition created and produced, 43 of the US Air Force, 34 of the type of ammunition for the Navy and Marine Corps, and 21 of the ammunition for the Ground Forces were intended. The 29 types of nuclear ammunition developed additionally were not put into service and rejected by the higher authorities even before their final development.
On 1 January, 1986 in the USA was undermined in various versions of their 820 nuclear products. 774 nuclear devices were undermined at US test sites, the results were fully used in the interests of the US military, and 18 nuclear devices belonged to nuclear devices built on a joint US-British basis, and the data obtained during testing became known to both parties involved in undermining nuclear devices.
President Truman signs the law on the use of atomic energy, on the basis of which the relevant commission was established. 1946 year. Photo from the archives of the US Department of Energy
Nuclear warheads and nuclear munitions are developed, tested and manufactured at state-owned factories leased to private companies (GOCO). State-owned factories are located in different states of the country 13 and have a total area of about 3900 square. miles (about 7800 sq. km).
The US nuclear industry produces four types of work:
- investigates and designs the next nuclear device (nuclear weapon),
- carries out the production of nuclear materials,
- carries out the production of nuclear warheads for nuclear weapons,
- makes testing of nuclear warheads.
The two laboratories are the Los Alamos National Laboratory, located in the state of New Mexico, and the Livermore National Laboratory. Lawrence, located in the state of California - engaged in the development of nuclear ammunition and produce a basic study of nuclear weapons systems. In addition, they conduct research on military use of atomic energy and other promising scientific developments.
The third laboratory, the Sandia National Laboratory, is engaged in supporting the activities of the two previous laboratories and, in addition, is developing non-nuclear components for nuclear warheads.
The CB, Air Force, Navy and USP laboratories are additional scientific and technical centers under the direction of the US Department of Energy. These laboratories conduct research and development in the field of the delivery of nuclear ammunition to the targets, investigate the effects of the damaging factors of nuclear explosions on military equipment and personnel of their armed forces, and carry out activities to prepare measures of protection against the damaging factors of nuclear explosions.
DESIGNS AND PLANS
A significant amount of work in the US nuclear research and production complex is assigned directly to the production of nuclear materials to create nuclear warheads, including radioactive plutonium and uranium, as well as radioactive deuterium, tritium and lithium. The bulk of these materials were created in the middle of the 1960s, when the largest amount of nuclear weapons was produced. Later, the greatest amount of nuclear weapons began to be produced from plutonium and tritium.
Deuterium production in the United States was closed in 1982 due to the closure of heavy water production facilities at the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge (Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant), Tennessee, and from the beginning of the 1960s at the same plant Y-12 in Oak Ridge finished production of enriched lithium. The requirements for these two nuclear materials are fully met in the United States through the use of nuclear materials recovered from decommissioned nuclear warheads and through the use of previously accumulated stockpiles.
One nuclear reactor located at the Hanford Reservation in Washington State manufactures weapons-grade plutonium, while four operating nuclear reactors located at the Savannah River Plant (SRP) plant in Aiken, South Carolina, produce plutonium and tritium .
Four nuclear reactors are designed to produce plutonium: one of them is located in Hanford, and three are at the SRP plant. They currently produce about 2 tons of enriched plutonium annually. This plutonium is produced from stockpiles and decommissioned nuclear ammunition and nuclear waste.
The estimated reserve of radioactive tritium is about 70 kg. Only one nuclear reactor located at the SRP plant is designed for the production of tritium and annually about 11 kg of this material is produced at this reactor. Due to the fact that about 5,5% of radioactive tritium annually decays by self-decomposition, due to the new production only about 7 kg of tritium is accumulated at the plant annually.
Highly enriched uranium (U-235 with 93,5% enrichment) was mainly used to equip nuclear warheads, which are often referred to as oralloy warheads and are not produced in the USA since the year 1964. In this regard, the total supply of oralloy is gradually reduced, since its small amount is used as nuclear fuel in the production of laboratory research and in research reactors, as well as for the production of small-scale nuclear explosions. The stock of oralloy was planned to increase during the 1988 fiscal year, when the US Department of Energy planned to resume production of oralloy to fill nuclear warheads and as nuclear fuel.
Deuterium production was halted in 1982 due to the closure of the heavy water plant at the Savannah River (SRP) plant, and since the beginning of the 1960s, the production of enriched lithium was discontinued at the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge. The requirements for these two radioactive materials have recently been met by the extraction of these materials from decommissioned ammunition and stockpiles.
Components for nuclear warheads are manufactured at seven plants of the US Department of Energy. The Rocky Fletts plant in Golden, Colorado, produces plutonium and collects billets that subsequently place plutonium or enriched uranium in them. These blanks are used in fissile nuclear weapons and as a fissile base in fusion weapons.
The Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Produces uranium components for the initial stage of thermonuclear ammunition, as well as for the production of nuclear components of the second stage of a thermonuclear explosion of ammunition. The components of the second stage of a thermonuclear explosion are made from deuteridaltium and uranium.
The Savannah River Plant plant in Aiken, South Carolina, produces tritium and fills metal tanks with it for subsequent recruitment of nuclear fusion thermonuclear warheads. At the Mound Facility plant in Miamisburg, Ohio, the production of detonators and various parts of the electrical circuits of the detonation of a nuclear weapon are carried out. And at the Pinellas Plant plant in St. Petersburg, Florida, the production of neutron generators.
The Kansas City Plant in Kansas City, Missouri, manufactures electronics, plastic and rubber products and other non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons. All of these components are packaged and sent to Pantex Plant, located near the city of Amarillo, Texas. This plant produces chemical explosives (components) designed specifically for nuclear warheads, and all components of a nuclear weapon are assembled together. The assembled ammunition is delivered to the US Department of Defense nuclear ammunition depots located in various states of the country.
Currently, American and British nuclear devices and finally assembled nuclear warheads are being tested at a test site in the state of Nevada (only subcritical underground tests are carried out - approx. Red.). The nearby Tonopach test range Test Range is used to test samples of nuclear warheads and to test the ballistic characteristics of artillery shells and missiles. In addition to these test sites, the East and West US Department of Defense test sites located in the states of Florida and California, as well as the White Sands missile test site in the state of New Mexico are used.
The Department of Energy and the Department of Defense of the United States share the overall life cycle of any nuclear weapon (nuclear warhead) into seven specific “vital” phases. During the 1 and 2 phases, the overall (early) concept of creating this particular nuclear weapon is determined and the probability of creating this weapon is estimated based on the general nuclear concept of working on the creation of new nuclear weapons, taking into account the current requirements of combat with nuclear weapons.
During the time period of the 2A phase, a more accurate determination of the value of the product occurs and the general combat characteristics of the nuclear weapon being created are specified. The presence of the obtained characteristics is the basis for the selection of a specific laboratory group of employees who will continue to develop this ammunition.
In Phase 3 work - engineering design - the Ministry of Defense reviews and approves the project. At this phase of work, the developed ammunition is assigned its letter designation (or B - aviation bomb, or W is a weapon system), the total number of ammunition that is planned to be produced is determined, and timelines for the creation of these ammunition are selected.
During the period of work within the framework of the 4 phase, special mechanisms and devices are being developed and created for all nuclear facilities and shops of the nuclear complex where the weapon will be manufactured.
In the works on the 5 phase, the first samples of the developed ammunition (Firs Production Unit - FPU) are created. If the tests are positive, the development of the head part enters a new phase - the sixth. This phase means the mass production of head parts and their storage in the respective warehouses.
The seventh phase of work begins when the previously coordinated work program and the finding of these warheads in service with the US or NATO forces ends and the warheads begin to be removed from warehouses. It ends when all the head parts of this type are removed from warehouses and transferred to the US Department of Energy for dismantling. The 7 phase is considered complete when all the head units of this type are removed from the warehouses of the Ministry of Defense. However, the head end may be in a state of phase 7 for some specific or additional time. It is determined by the rate at which a particular type of armed forces removes its nuclear weapons from armaments, or by how quickly a new type of weapon comes into service, with which these warheads are replaced.
The American practice of developing, producing and decommissioning nuclear weapons shows that the 1 phase can last long enough and will depend on how things are going with the new military-strategic concepts and how quickly new nuclear weapons or warheads should come into service. . The 2 and 2A phases can take up to one year. The 3 and 4 phases (engineering and manufacturing design) can last from four to six years. Phases 5 and 6 (from the first production, mass production and the creation of a certain stock of nuclear weapons of this type) can last from 8 to 25 years. And finally, the 7 phase (removing the warheads, taking them out of warehouses and dismantling them completely) can take from one to four years.
The US nuclear arsenal is practically in constant daily movement: some nuclear weapons are being developed, manufactured and put into service, some are being removed from service and completely dismantled. The stockpile of an arsenal of nuclear ammunition and the pace of individual events were very different in the last 40 or 50 years of its existence. The current rates of production, decommissioning and modernization of the nuclear arsenal depend on the amount of work being done, the space available for the production of ammunition and the time for carrying out these works and activities and is approximately 3500 – 4000 nuclear ammunition (nuclear warheads) in a calendar year . In order to withstand such rates of maintaining a stockpile of nuclear arsenals, the Department of Energy is requesting from the US Congress appropriate money in view of inflation and other expenses of the ruling administration of the country. Note that if at the beginning of 1960, the capabilities of the US nuclear complex made it possible to produce about 6000 nuclear ammunition per year (and most of the manufactured warheads and bombs are newly developed designs that were not in service with the US armed forces), then in 1977 1978's nuclear mill complex produced only a few hundred nuclear warheads.
The level of activity of the production work of the US nuclear complex can also be judged by simultaneously producing various nuclear warheads for the needs of the country's armed forces. For example, from June to December 1967 of the year (the peak period in the creation of the US nuclear arsenal) 17 of various types of nuclear weapons for 23 types of nuclear systems for delivering nuclear weapons to targets was simultaneously produced in the country. For comparison, during almost the entire 1977 of the year and in part of the 1978 of the year, only one type of nuclear weapon was developed in the country - the B61 type aviation bomb.