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The B61-12 JTA PRT is executing the product realization of the Joint Test Assembly body to be used in the development, qualification and stockpile evaluation of the B61-12. The selected candidate must have the ability to support moderate travel (10 trips/year). On any given day, this R&D Electrical Engineer on the JTA systems team may be called upon to:
lead the development of the product specification (PS) for the Pantex JTA tester,
develop the B61-12 system requirements for JTA test data management for tests at the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and support the qualification of the TTR telemetry ground station,
support planning and execution of JTA ground and flight tests including the operation of JTA ground station equipment,
support analysis and distribution of JTA data sets,
support flight line testing operations for JTA tests including keying encryption devices.
Advanced degree in electrical engineering or relevant engineering field; or bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with 5 years relevant electrical engineering experience.
Ability to obtain and maintain a DOE Q-level security clearance.
Experience with telemetry design, RF engineering and testing;
Experience using Matlab and data analysis tools;
Experience analyzing large data sets;
Experience with the design, development and qualification of nuclear weapons;
Experience with the nuclear weapon design definition system;
Experience working with Pantex;
Experience developing functional testers;
Knowledge of the B61-12 system electrical system;
Demonstrated written and oral communication skills;
Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment.
The B61-12 Non-WR Systems Engineering department (2124) is one of eleven departments responsible for the Sandia system program management, design and qualification of the B61-12 life extension program (LEP). These eleven departments work closely with each other and with other agencies within the Nuclear Security Enterprise (e.g., NNSA, Los Alamos, Kansas City, Pantex Plant) and within the DoD (e.g., Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center) to execute the B61 LEP. Department 2124 is responsible for the design and delivery of non-WR system assemblies for the B61-12: Joint Test Assembly (JTA), Compatibility Test Units (CTUs), Trainers and Ancillary Equipment, and Flight Bodies/IOT&E bodies. The department is also responsible for the development of the surveillance program and the overarching sustainment plan for the B61-12. The department activities include planning, system integration, design, testing and assembly and interfaces heavily with the other B61-12 departments as well as with system and component organizations throughout Sandia.
WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) announced that they recently formally authorized the production engineering phase of its B61-12 warhead life extension program (LEP). This important milestone comes after four years of work in the development-engineering phase of the program, and marks the final development phase prior to production. The first production unit (FPU) of this weapon is planned for Fiscal Year 2020, followed by full-scale production.
“Reaching this next phase of the B61-12 LEP is a major achievement for NNSA and the exceptionally talented scientists and engineers whose work underpins this vital national security mission,” said NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz (Ret.). “Currently, the B61 contains the oldest components in the U.S. arsenal. This LEP will add at least an additional 20 years to the life of the system.”
The B61-12 LEP is a joint NNSA and United States Air Force (USAF) program that preserves a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and the extended deterrent. The LEP refurbishes both nuclear and non-nuclear components to extend the bomb’s service life while improving its safety, security, and reliability to meet long standing material requirements. The LEP will reuse or remanufacture existing components to the maximum extent possible. The B61-12 will replace the existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bombs.
“These life extension programs directly support President Obama’s directive to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent, while reducing the size of the stockpile,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “Once completed, the B61-12 LEP will allow for the retirement of the B83-1—the last megaton-class weapon in America’s nuclear arsenal—while supporting the nation’s continued commitment to our national security and that of our allies and partners.”
The B61-12 LEP is conducted by Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M.; Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. and Livermore, Calif.; and the nuclear security enterprise production plants, including the Kansas City National Security Campus in Missouri; the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas; the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina; and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The B61-12 includes a USAF provided tail-kit assembly section, designed by Boeing Company under contract to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.
“We have an aggressive test schedule to drop 26 unarmed bombs in less than a year, from both F-15E and B-2 aircraft,” said Col. Paul Rounsavall, AFNWC B61-12 senior materiel leader at Eglin AFB, Florida. “We are off to a great start.”
Last week, three F-15E aircraft dropped unarmed B61-12s under different flight conditions, demonstrating the aircraft capability to employ the weapon.
NNSA, Air Force Complete Two Additional B61-12 Life Extension Program Qualification Flight Tests At Tonopah Test Range WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and the U.S Air Force announced today the completion of two qualification flight tests of the B61-12 gravity bomb at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. Completed November 7-8, 2017, these tests continue a series of qualification flight tests that will be conducted over the next three years. 'These tests continue to demonstrate that the B61-12 meets requirements and marks another on-time achievement for the B61-12 Life Extension Program,' said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, NNSA's Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. 'The completion of this milestone is a testament to the dedication of our workforce and the joint NNSA-U.S. Air Force team.' The tests involved releasing non-nuclear configured joint test assemblies from two F-15Es based at Nellis Air Force Base, demonstrating the aircraft's capability to deliver the weapon and the weapon's non-nuclear functions. The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory and manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants. The tail-kit assembly section was designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center. The B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP) entered Phase 6.4 Production Engineering in June 2016 under the oversight of the Nuclear Weapons Council, a joint Department of Defense and DOE/NNSA organization established to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the two departments. The program will extend the bomb's service life while improving its safety, security, and reliability. The B61-12 will consolidate and replace the existing B61 bomb variants in the nation's nuclear arsenal. The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020. The B61-12 LEP is a joint NNSA and Air Force program that preserves a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and demonstrates continued support for extended deterrence and assurance commitments.
The Air Force recently completed its initial series of tests on this first-ever nuclear smart bomb, at Nevada’s Tonopah Test Range and other locations (one test was delayed until wild horses could be herded away from the target zone).
Ever since Hiroshima, it has been a nuclear weapon’s dumbness—and sheer magnitude—that marked its military utility. Nuclear weapons generally have been so huge and crude that they have been self-deterring. The B61-12 suggests that may no longer be the case. That’s the obvious downside to making nuclear weapons smaller and more accurate: it increases the chances they will be used. The B61-12’s unspoken targets: buried nuclear-production sites and command and control bunkers belonging to nations like North Korea, Iran and Russia. The B61-12’s smaller blast would generate less atomic fallout, reducing civilian deaths and thereby giving it even more utility. Its mini-nuke nature also makes it better-suited for forward-deployed warplanes based in Europe or Asia with U.S. and allied forces. It’s a dumb bomb made smart by its adjustable tail fins that is likely to guide it within 100 feet of its target (its accuracy remains classified). Think of it as a nuclear Joint Direct-Attack Munition, the GPS-guided bomb that dramatically increased the accuracy of non-nuclear U.S. airpower beginning in 2000. The Pentagon plans to spend about $10 billion to build about 400 B61-12s, roughly $25 million a pop. They should be ready for action in 2020.
Not everyone is convinced. “The new version of the B61 would be our first nuclear smart bomb, but it is still a dumb idea,” says Joe Cirincione, president of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund. “Rather than increasing our security, the new B61 increases the likelihood that a president would be convinced to use nuclear weapons first, under the mistaken belief that the smaller, more accurate blast would minimize civilian casualties.”
“The yield required of a nuclear weapon to destroy a hard and deeply buried target is reduced by a factor of 15 to 25 by enhanced ground-shock coupling if the weapon is detonated a few meters below the surface,” the nation’s top scientists noted in a 2005 National Research Council study. But that also has benefits: once the B61-12 is operational, the Pentagon plans to retire far more destructive nuclear weapons.