Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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The W78 Lives On

Joint Test Assembly flight tests evaluate the health of the Minuteman III and its aging warhead.
December 1, 2016
The W78 Lives On

An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

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  • Clay Dillingham
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The key to a JTA is that it uses a mock nuclear warhead: surrogate materials have replaced all of the nuclear materials inside.

The W78 warhead, which was designed by Los Alamos and is one of the two types used to arm Minuteman III ICBMs, will turn 40 in 2019. One way to evaluate the health of the aging W78 is by Joint Test Assembly (JTA) flight tests.

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